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Learning to be mentally stronger 'on the run'

LOS ANGELES -- The Dallas Mavericks don't even bother hiding from their past. Perhaps they know it's of no use and thus entered this season realizing the only way to escape it is to overcome it.

Yes, we're talking about all those mental meltdowns in recent seasons that have led to so much postseason heartache. They've endured it even this season with Game4 in Portland having threatened to doom yet another series.

But Dallas didn't let it. Then in Game 1, the first half fizzled in a 20-6 Lakers run and the third quarter started with a 7-0 L.A. burst for a 16-point deficit. It still didn't stop the Mavs. Yet those who have been around for a few years don't hesitate to suggest that such pitfalls would have sent previous Mavs squads packing.

"In the past we would have definitely, being down 16 points, it could have gotten worse," Jason Kidd said. "For us, maybe that 16-point lead would have turned into 30 and we’d be talking about getting ready for Game 2."

Here's Jason Terry: "With all that transpired at the end of the first half, the momentum, and history would say that we would have [lost]."

But now: "Not this team. Not this year," Terry said.

And Kidd, who coaches largely credit as the calming force on the court: "Everybody is talented physically, but teams that win are mentally tough. You look at the world champs; the Lakers are mentally tough. They don’t let anything bother them, and they find a way to win. We’re trying to take that and learn and do it on the run, but I think we’re doing a very good job of it right now."

So how does virtually the same cast of characters learn to become mentally stronger and maintain belief.

"I think just what we’ve built since training camp," Tyson Chandler said. "We fought each other hard in training camp and we set a common goal. We’re far from that goal, but we’re on the right path."

Coach Rick Carlisle said he thinks the Mavs have always been fighters in tough times. He's not sure anything's changed, but he does have an idea of how Dallas can stop having to prove its mental resolve through adversity.

"When we get put back on our heels, we’ve always fought back," Carlisle said. "So [Game 1] was no different. The key is not to get put back on our heels. That’s the essence of Game 2 and that’s the essence of the series from my perspective."