Mavericks' Haywood: 'I just work here'

DALLAS -- Center Brendan Haywood came off the bench for the first time since making his Dallas Mavericks debut, and he didn't seem happy about his reserve role in the team's victory against the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night.

"I just work here," Haywood said after the Mavericks' 106-96 victory.

Coach Rick Carlisle said he made the decision to start Erick Dampier because Dampier had played well against All-Star center Chris Kaman earlier in the season. Carlisle also said his starting center could vary each night.

"They are a team," Carlisle said of Dampier and Haywood.

Haywood, who had averaged only 5.0 points and 5.5 rebounds in the previous four games, came off the bench against the Clippers and scored 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting, snatched 10 rebounds and blocked four shots in 30 minutes.

"Haywood delivered in a big way," Carlisle said. "The fact that he's playing great kept him on the court."

Dampier played 18 minutes, grabbing six rebounds and scoring three points on 1-of-5 shooting. The Clippers' Kaman finished with 22 points and nine rebounds.

Haywood said he didn't use his reserve role as a motivational spark.

"Not really," the usually loquacious Haywood said after a long pause, before repeating, "I just work here."

Haywood, who came to the Mavericks as part of a seven-player trade with the Washington Wizards during the All-Star break, made it clear earlier this week that he's not interested in starting a controversy over playing time.

Dampier missed 12 games with an open dislocation of his right middle finger, suffered during the first game back from the All-Star break. Haywood had kept the starting job after Dampier's return -- until Tuesday night.

"I'm not fighting for minutes," Haywood said after Monday's practice. "We're fighting for a championship.

"Losing teams have competitions between players for playing time. That's what we were doing in D.C. That's losing basketball. We're competing to win a championship. It comes down to, if I'm bringing it, [Dampier's] going to support me. If he's bringing it, I'm going to support him."

Haywood got into three fights with ex-Wizards teammate Etan Thomas while they were competing for playing time. Haywood and Dampier have developed a friendly relationship.

"Coach dictates the minutes," Haywood said Monday. "That's his job. In Washington, [coach Eddie Jordan] made it known it was an open competition. This isn't a competition.

"[Jordan] felt like that competition fueled the team. It was actually terrible for the team. This is more along the lines of, whoever is playing the best, put him in the game and let's try to get something done."

Tim MacMahon covers the Mavericks for ESPN Dallas. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.