Vince Carter takes benching in stride

DALLAS -- It took all of one half for Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle to shake up his starting lineup. Vince Carter, an eight-time All-Star, took a seat to start the third quarter as backup point guard Delonte West got the nod at shooting guard in Sunday's 105-94 loss to the Miami Heat.

Carter, who sat out a practice early in camp with knee tendinitis, said he was feeling fine. Carter played only 7:48 of the first half because he picked up three fouls trying to guard Dwyane Wade. Dallas ran a play for Carter on its opening possession but his shot was deflected, and on the second possession he came up short at the rim. Carter did end the Mavs' opening field goal drought with a 3-pointer at the 7:24 mark.

To start the third quarter, Carlisle said he was seeking more playmaking ability on the floor as the Mavs trailed 62-41, and that planted Carter on the bench. Miami reeled off a 9-2 run to start the third quarter and led 71-43.

"I don't know, that's what he said," Carter said when asked if his benching was a coaching decision and not a health issue. "We're a new team ... that has to kind of learn each other on the fly, that's just the way it goes. There's a lot of teams that have the bulk of their guys returning. We don't. There's six guys missing from last year and added six more guys. So it's going to be a process and we need to learn on the fly. I think we understand that."

Carlisle said he believes Carter will thrive in Dallas, but he also noted that the starting spot at shooting guard could be in flux.

"I like the way Vince played," Carlisle said. "I've still got to look at the film, obviously, but Vince is going to be a good player for us. He's an eight-time All-Star and he's a Hall-of-Fame player, and he's got plenty left. It's just we need to examine what's going to work best for us in terms of putting us in the best possible position defensively at the beginning of games, etc., etc. It's something I'll have to look at. Game to game, we could have some variance with our lineup at the 2-spot, which is nothing new around here.

"I'd obviously like to get to something consistent where the guys are comfortable, but right now is not a time a time to be talking about being comfortable with everybody coming at us the way they're going to."