By Dwain Price, The Sports Xchange
DALLAS — Rick Carlisle joined a very exclusive club on Saturday.
With the Dallas Mavericks’ 108-82 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers, Carlisle became just the 18th coach in NBA history to win 700 games. San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, Clippers coach Doc Rivers and Carlisle are the only active coaches with at least 700 career victories.
The Mavericks shot 45.7 percent from 3-point range and outrebounded the Clippers, 54-38, en route to snapping their two-game losing streak and helping Carlisle reach his milestone.
“I really wasn’t counting, to tell you the truth,” Carlisle said when asked about collecting his 700th win. “It just means that I’ve been very fortunate. I’ve had three great owners and a lot of great players.
“I really had never been one to count that kind of stuff. As time goes on, I count those things even less.”
From a personal standpoint, what mattered most to Carlisle was the dominant performance his team put on in improving its record to 6-17. The Mavericks jumped out to an 8-0 lead and led wire-to-wire against the Clippers.
With J.J. Barea tallying 15 of his 21 points and handing out seven of his 10 assists in the second quarter, the Mavericks compiled a 59-38 lead at the half and never looked back. It was a miserable performance by the Clippers, who dropped to 8-13.
“Early on the scorers that we have couldn’t score,” Rivers said. “I really thought it was more of an offensive issue, but the defense has to be better.
“But it gets so frustrating when you’re on defense all game. That’s how it felt.”
The Clippers shot a frosty 34.9 percent from the field and misfired on 16 of their 22 shots from 3-point range.
“Obviously during a game you see things when you are watching that may be able to help the guys on the floor,” Clippers guard Lou Williams said after scoring a team-high 18 points. “You just got to respond to adversity better than we did today.”
That’s precisely what the Mavericks did. They looked at their win-loss record and, to a man, know they should be playing better.
Meanwhile, the game tipped off at 1 p.m. Central Standard Time, and that was more to Barea’s liking.
“I like early games,” Barea said. “I can wake up and go straight to it. With the (early) game you don’t have to wait around.”
A pair of 3-pointers and another basket by Barea highlighted a 21-4 rally that boosted the Mavericks’ lead to 45-21 midway through the second quarter. Dallas went on to lead, 59-38, at the half and 86-66 after three quarters.
The win helped the Mavericks bounce back from Wednesday’s disappointing 109-104 home loss to Brooklyn.
“We just wanted to come out with a better effort,” said guard Devin Harris, who scored 15 points for the Mavericks. “I think we are all a bit embarrassed about the effort we put in against Brooklyn.”
Carlisle agreed, saying Saturday’s game was much more palatable.
“I thought we bounced back from really a below-average defensive performance against Brooklyn,” Carlisle said. “Early on we missed some shots and we had a couple of uncharacteristic turnovers, but it never affected our defensive force or disposition, and that’s what we’ve got to have.”
Carlisle praised the play of rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr., who finished with 12 points and five rebounds.
“His decision-making is getting much more decisive,” Carlisle said. “His play is getting much more overall efficient.
“I thought his defense to start the game, and really for the majority of the time that he was out there against (Austin) Rivers and Lou Williams, was terrific and better than we’ve seen. The best that we’ve seen to this point.