Opening Tip: 'This is a coaching loss'

DALLAS -- A handful of times per season, Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle will readily claim blame for a loss.

Sometimes he is legitimately admitting to coaching errors, displaying admirable integrity that is crucial to the team's culture of accountability.

On other occasions, Carlisle seems to be putting his psychology degree from the University of Virginia to use.

The fall-on-the-sword act after Monday's 110-96 loss to the Denver Nuggets felt like it belonged in the latter category.

"This is a coaching loss," Carlisle said after the Mavs' second defeat by the Nuggets in a three-day span. "I didn't have these guys ready to play. It's clear, so I'll take the blame for this. I just didn't have them ready to play."

It should be noted that the Mavs jumped out to an 11-point lead in the first quarter. That's not quite proof that coaching preparation was the problem.

"It's a 48-minute game and you've got to be ready," Carlisle said. "Sometimes success is a form of adversity. Prosperity is always one of the challenges in pro sports because teams can strike back so quickly. You've got to be able to sustain, and we didn't do it tonight."

The Mavs, who fell to 9-6, had two major problems in Monday's loss. They couldn't slow down Denver's high-octane offense, allowing the Nuggets to shoot 54.7 percent from the floor. And the Mavs' offense sputtered in the fourth quarter, when Dallas scored only 19 points on 42.1 percent shooting.

The effect of coaching on those issues might be up for debate, but the players weren't pointing fingers.

"It’s not on him," sixth man Vince Carter, who scored only eight points on 3-of-13 shooting, said of Carlisle. "We have to respond and play. We have to do our job, as well."

Added guard Monta Ellis: "I say we’re a team. I wouldn’t just put it on coach. ... We slipped. ... It’s a team effort. We’ve got to go back to the drawing board and getting back to our identity.”