Here are some post-game reactions from the Dallas Mavericks 86-83 victory over the Miami Heat Tuesday night in Game 4 of the 2011 NBA Finals, a win that evened this amazingly tight series at 2-2.
Miami coach Erik Spoelstra
This series is a jump ball. Every single game. And they outplayed us obviously there in the fourth quarter. And we didn’t take care of our business on both ends of the court. We did not execute with a level of efficiency or trust, and we had a couple of breakdowns, even though we had the eight or nine straight stops there in the fourth, we were not efficient enough offensively.
So here we are. We’re four games into this. Both teams have done what they needed to do. Both teams have won on the road one game. However you get to this point. And that’s what we’ll focus on next, Game 5, the swing game.
Q. Erik, just 14 points in the fourth quarter. Was it their zone that caught you guys off guard? Or did your offense just kind of fall apart?
COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA: You have to give them credit, their defense is good. This is a possession series. Both teams are getting after it. This is what it’s all about. We’ll be better in Game 5. And certainly our efficiency and execution going down the stretch. We have had a great run in the playoffs. We have had a couple where we’ve stumbled. And they have a lot to do with that. Their defense, making plays. But it’s about trusting and moving the ball and being efficient. We had six turnovers I believe in the fourth quarter. We were very uncharacteristic going down the stretch.
Q. Dirk, went a little bit early to the right for the lay-up, which put you guys up initially. Walk us through that.
DIRK NOWITZKI: Really, I was going to play the clock down, but I saw I had a little opening there. So I just went for it. I just went for it. Was able to rip through and go to the right. They really played my left, which obviously the whole league does. So I was able to rip through and get to my right and finally finish a lay-up. I thought I missed four or five good looks around the rim today. Kind of bounced around, bounced out. So that was unfortunate, but I was able to get one in. So that was good.
Q. Dirk, is Game 5 a must-win for you? Can you talk about the defensive effort as a team you played on LeBron James. Held him to eight points on 3 of 11.
DIRK NOWITZKI: Yeah, I think our base did a good job helping on the screen-and-rolls. So that was big.
And obviously, yeah, we would love to get Game 5 here. Don’t want to go to Miami down 3-2, knowing they have two chances to close us out. Big game Thursday. Like I said, I thought our defense won us the game. To give up 14 points to an explosive team with LeBron, with Bosh and Wade on one team, if you give up 14 points in the quarter to close it out, I think that’s huge.
So hopefully we can carry that defense over into Game 5, and then we’ll see what happens.
Q. LeBron, could you talk about your offensive night. And did you defer too much?
LeBRON JAMES: Definitely didn’t play great offensively. I got to do a better job of being more assertive offensively, not staying out of rhythm offensively the whole game. But I think one thing I try to concentrate is, if I get two guys on me, try to make my teammates better, hit those guys for open looks. They made some great looks, but at the same time I have to keep myself in rhythm while I’m doing that as well.
Q. LeBron, you guys had a commanding lead in the fourth. You guys would have gone up 3-1. Mavericks had nothing going. Shooting a low percentage. Dirk was sick. How do you think you guys ended up losing this game? What happened?
LeBRON JAMES: I don’t think anything is commanding in this series. These are two games teams trying to figure out a way to make plays down the stretch. We’ve seen in this series seven or eight-point lead is nothing. You just got to continue to execute offensively, continue to grind defensively. And put yourself in the best possible chance to win late.
Dallas coach Rick Carlisle
Q. Can you talk about the resiliency and resolve your team continues to show.
COACH RICK CARLISLE: Look, we’re a tough ballclub. We’ve been tough all year. We don’t have the appearance of a physically bruising-type team, but this is as mentally tough a group as I’ve ever had. I love this team more than any team I’ve had, because they just — what they stand for, how they play together, and how they trust. It can be difficult, because Miami has some guys that make some breath-taking plays. Just to keep playing through that and to keep playing through situations where you’re missing some shots you normally make, hey, there’s some frustration out there, but they stuck together. They kept their energy up. And they found a way.
Q. Rick, Dirk shot 6-for-19 in the game. You heard him wheezing and coughing. You knew he had a fever. But despite all of that, with the game on the line and 14 seconds to go, even in that condition, can you want the ball in anybody’s hands other than him?
COACH RICK CARLISLE: Well, he’s one of the greatest ever. He wants the ball, and he wants the responsibility of winning and losing the game. So we make every effort to put him in those situations. It’s not easy, because teams do a great job of trying to deny him the ball. And in those situations, you know, Jason Terry has been one of the best fourth-quarter players in the league for a number of years. And Kidd’s experience and — you know. We’re a team that has to find ways. And generally we want to play through Dirk as much as we can.