Rick Carlisle has had a knack for timely ejections in leading the Dallas Mavericks and Wednesday's early third-quarter hysterics proved to be a game-changer.
Carlisle had seen enough of Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett climbing all over his superstar Dirk Nowitzki without a whistle, so when it happened again less than two minutes into the third quarter, a furious Carlisle stomped all the way down court until he was practically standing in front of the Celtics' bench.
Waving and pointing and shouting at second-year referee Josh Tiven, Carlisle had to be restrained, almost unsuccessfully, by assistant coach Terry Stotts. Tiven fired back with with consecutive technical fouls to give Carlisle the early exit. At the time, Dallas had let a lead slip away and Boston was up three and then five after the technical free throws were good.
"It's my opinion, but Kevin Garnett shouldn't be allowed to bear hug Dirk coming off the screen," Carlisle said after the 90-85 victory, the Mavs' third in a row to run their record to 6-5 and over .500 for the first time this season. "I wanted to make my point. If it costs me a few dollars so be it."
Once Carlisle made his way to the locker room, energy returned to the wilting Mavs. They went on a 24-6 run and turned a five-point deficit into a 66-53 lead.
Boston would rally and tie it on a late Paul Pierce 3-pointer, but Dirk Nowitzki, who had nine of his 16 points in the fourth quarter, had the last laugh on Garnett by getting around him and converting a difficult drive and foul for a three-point play the old-fashioned way with about five second to go.
"It's a fun situation to be in," Nowitzki said of the game-winning possession. "Everybody's looking at you and your team really depends on you, so I like to be in the position where I can make something happen."
Credit Carlisle with the assist.