Coach wants to fix problems, not assign fault

OKLAHOMA CITY – Coach Rick Carlisle declined to comment directly about big man Brendan Haywood’s pointed criticism of the Mavs’ perimeter D – and particularly Peja Stojakovic’s work – in the first two games of the series.

I just don’t think that would be wise,” Carlisle said, noting that he had not heard the quotes or seen Haywood’s body language while delivering them.

Carlisle also declined to discuss whether it’s accurate to pinpoint perimeter defense as one the Mavs’ biggest problems against the Thunder, who have lit it up for an average of 109 points against a team that didn’t give up triple digits in the first two rounds of the playoffs.

“Instead of getting into a [expletive] throw about whose fault it is,” Carlisle said, “what we’re going to do is circle the wagons and find a way to be better.”

Carlisle has stressed a strong team defensive approach all season, and it has worked, as the Mavs moved from the middle of the pack last season to the top 10 in scoring defense and defensive efficiency. Carlisle will continue that approach after a couple of poor defensive performances.

“We’re a team that relies on a defensive system,” Carlisle said. “Five guys on the court have got to be doing their job.”