Haywood after Game 5: 'I'm a starter'

Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said he thought long and hard about making the switch from Erick Dampier to Brendan Haywood as the starting center for Game 5.

Dampier reclaimed his starting job from Haywood on April 3 and started the first four games of the series. Haywood, who responded with a dominant game as an interior presence with eight points, 12 free-throw attempts, eight rebounds -- six on the offensive glass -- two assists and four blocked shots. He played excellent defense on San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan, who has averaged 7.5 points in the last two games.

Afterward, Haywood insinuated that this is the type of performance to expect when he's in the starting lineup.

"It's a different feel with this team just because of the unit. No disprespect to anybody, but for me it's easier when I'm playing with Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki," Haywood said. "Coming in the game sometimes when you're coming in with the second unit, it's a different feel and for me, I'm a starter, I've been used to starting, but at the same time I was willing to do whatever it took for this team to be successful. If coach thought that was starting Damp, I was going to roll with that as well."

However, there was some thought that Haywood had been sulking since moving back to the bench and not giving the Mavs the kind of effort he had when he arrived and jumped into the startling lineup when Dampier was sidelined with a finger injury. Carlisle said he didn't believe that be the case.

"I think Haywood’s been trying and giving us a terrific effort," Carlisle said. "It's just a little different when you start the game. Again, it was a bit of a gut feel, it was a bit of a conversation with the staff and looking at some different things. I just felt the time was right to do it. Again, Damp was great about it."

Dampier, who doesn't have a field goal in the series and was fined $35,000 by the league on Monday for criticizing the officials after Game 3, did not play at all in Game 5.