DALLAS -- Coach Rick Carlisle started his press conference with an attempt at spin control.
Carlisle knew he had to address Jason Terry’s tirade that occurred early in the second quarter. That, not the Mavs snapping a four-game losing streak by beating the lottery-bound Clippers, was the story of the night.
It was Carlisle’s duty to acknowledge the issue without providing any significant details, hoping that will help prevent the Terry issue from lingering.
“It’s an internal matter,” Carlisle said. “It’s going to remain an internal matter. This is an emotional game, and it’s a very compelling game because in our league guys don’t wear baseball hats and fans aren’t seated 30 yards from the field and guys aren’t wearing facemasks with glass barriers like hockey. Emotions run high and sometimes things happen, and I’m going to leave it at that.
“Jet’s a very important guy on our team. I was considering giving him a night off going forward, but I think tonight will be his night off.”
Terry sat out the rest of the night after engaging in a shouting match with J.J. Barea and then Carlisle during a timeout in the second quarter. He had to be calmed down by assistant coaches and owner Mark Cuban.
Carlisle said he decided immediately after the confrontation that Terry was done for the night. The coach thinks that will be all the necessary disciplinary action, but he declined to say whether he’d yet had a discussion with Terry to settle their differences.
Terry, whose recent struggles continued with his scoreless eight-minute stint, declined to address his outburst after the game. That’s not going to make it just go away.
And this isn’t just an isolated incident. It’s only the most obvious indication that Carlisle and Terry aren’t on the same page.
Carlisle called Terry out after Wednesday night’s loss to the Nuggets, saying a seasoned pro needs to keep his composure after Terry got called for a technical foul in the final minute. This came on the heels of Terry getting ejected from last week’s loss to the Lakers for a foolish flagrant foul.
“We can’t be doing that stuff. Simple as that,” Carlisle said.
Terry clearly didn’t get the message. He avoided the media that night and the next day, but he dismissed the issue when he finally discussed it after Friday morning’s shootaround.
“Hey, it worked for me,” Terry said. “Made me feel good. Got my point across. We’ll see if it pays off if we have that same crew again.”
There was nothing feel-good about the sideline drama Friday night. It totally overshadowed a terrific team effort by the Mavs after that moment.
“Maybe this was the game we needed to kind of get some stuff out and re-focus, play with each other and fight with each other,” said Dirk Nowitzki, who couldn’t keep a straight face when he claimed not to see the confrontation. “That’s what it’s going to take in the playoffs. You’ve got to leave it all on the court. All five guys need to be on a string and really fight, because if you look at the first-round matchup, it’s going to be tough whoever we see.
“We’re only going to win if we play hard and play together.”
The Mavs can beat the Clippers with Terry on the end of the bench, but they’ll have no chance in the playoffs unless he’s thinking and shooting straight.