- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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DALLAS -- Get the short leashes ready, Rick Carlisle.
After a loss that was a defensive debacle in Denver earlier this month, Carlisle declared that he made a drastic mistake by not pulling his starters after it was apparent that they weren’t ready to play in the early minutes. He shouldn’t hesitate to have a quick hook with the Nuggets in town Friday night.
This isn’t just an attitude issue. It’s about athleticism.
No matter how focused and intense Jose Calderon is, he’s going to have a hard time matching up with speedy Denver point guard Ty Lawson. Even if Samuel Dalembert shows up wide awake and ready to roll, a fast-paced game doesn’t play to his strengths.
If Dallas can’t dictate the tempo, the Mavs might as well rely heavily on a couple of reserves who were born to run. This seems like a game that makes sense for Devin Harris and Brandan Wright to get the majority of the minutes at their positions.
“That’s the type of game I’ve been playing my whole career -- high school, college, first four years in the league,” Wright said. “I’m used to that type of track meet -- up and down, a lot of slashing, above-the-rim type of things.”
The remarkably athletic Wright was one of the Mavs’ lone bright spots during their March 5 loss in Denver, when the Nuggets exploded for 41 points in the first quarter and Dalembert was benched for the second half. Wright scored 18 points on 9-of-13 shooting, and the Mavs outscored the Nuggets by 12 points in his 25 minutes.
Harris was bothered by a sore Achilles tendon that night and was 0-of-5 from the floor, but he still had 11 assists in 18 minutes. Harris also held Lawson to 0-of-5 shooting in the 12 minutes they were both on the court. By comparison, Lawson is 17-of-28 (60.7 percent) against the Mavs when Harris isn’t on the floor this season.
“We’ll aggressively sub if we need to,” Carlisle said. “But right now, we’ve got to stick together.”