Rick Carlisle's night began on a jovial note as he compared himself to 'Colonel Sanders.' But that game of Chicken became something else all together on Monday when the coach accused the Jazz of 'thugging it up' in the Mavs' 100-94 loss at Utah.
The Dallas Mavericks benefitted from "Dirk being Dirk" (20 points in 32 minutes). They closed quarters (a 9-2 edge to end the first, a 20-12 run to close the third). And they even tried to fight back from what Carlisle labeled Utah's "thuggish" play, which included a body slam away from the ball of Dirk Nowitzki.
But night by night, the fight is being knocked out of Dallas, 100-94 losers and now sharing a 13-22 record that places them alongside Sacramento among the dregs of the West.
"I'm proud of the guys and how we battled," said Dirk, saying the right thing after a firestorm that had some confused followers mistakenly thinking he wanted out of Dallas. "Just that little thing down the stretch is missing. That separates the good teams ...