"I'm not going to talk about that," Carlisle said after the Mavs' emotionally charged 112-105 win over the Clippers. "It was ... whatever."
Mavs' J.J. Barea had another word to describe the incident that resulted in double technical fouls: "Awesome."
It began when the pesky Barea baited Davis into an offensive foul near midcourt with 8:40 remaining in the fourth quarter and momentum firmly in the Mavs' grasp. Barea sensed Davis was frustrated that he didn't get a call the previous possession, felt him push off and responded by getting breath-smelling close to Davis' bearded grill.
As intended, Davis didn't appreciate that and wildly swung his elbow. Barea hit the hardwood like he'd been run over by a tank -- or at least Blake Griffin -- and was angrily accused by Davis of flopping. Barea, by the way, didn't exactly deny that charge after the game.
"I didn't have to go down, but when you get hit like that, you go down," Barea said with a grin. "It's basketball."
Things really got heated during the ensuing timeout. Carlisle wouldn't provide any details, but Davis offered his unique perspective on the exchange.
"He basically thought I took a cheap shot on Barea," Davis said, according to the Los Angeles Times. "Barea was flopping the whole night and he flopped on that play. So when Carlisle looked at me, 'That was a dirty play.'
"I was like, 'No it wasn't. This dude is flopping.' I guess he felt like he was protecting his player. So I told him to ... "
Davis acknowledged that he sprinkled in some colorful language as well. Carlisle certainly didn't back down, appearing ready to brawl with the brawny point guard, reflecting the Mavs' intensity during their defensively dominant second half.
"He started cussing me out," Davis said. "I told him, 'Go have some lunch.'"
Barea wasn't the only Mav who appreciated Carlisle's actions.
"I've got his back," big man Tyson Chandler said. "He's all right."
It didn't escalate past that point, but the coach's intensity clearly inspired the Mavs. They responded with a 10-0 run out of the break to turn a tight game into a blowout.
"Man, that's it. Guys see it and we get fired up from it," Jason Terry said. "This team has been looking for some personality. When it comes from your head coach, that's big. You know he has your back, but that's just another example of it."
Considering Carlisle's reputation for having a robotic personality and the rarity of coach-opposing player scraps, the outburst came as a pretty big surprise. At least to outsiders.
"Everybody thinks Rick is this calm-demeanor guy, no emotion," Terry said. "He shows tons of emotion and tonight was an example of that."
Tim MacMahon covers the Mavericks for ESPNDallas.com.