Nowitzki proud of effort from team in loss

Nowitzki proud of effort from team in loss

Published Jan. 19, 2013 10:46 a.m. ET

Mavericks starting point guard Darren Collison played just under four minutes during the fourth quarter on Friday night. He didn't play at all in overtime.

Collison, who finished with 15 points and six assists in 31 minutes on the court, said he would obviously have liked to be in the game as the Mavericks forced overtime before falling 117-114 to the Oklahoma City Thunder. But Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle had other plans.

"Coach decided to go with (Mike James), and I'm a team player," Collison said, "so I was just trying to help in any way, talking to guys on our bench, and hoping we'd get the win."

Carlisle simply called the move a coach's decision and something that could vary from game-to-game.

Dirk Nowitzki said James finished the game because he was shooting well from the outside (2-of-5 from three-point range) and because he is bigger than Collison, which helps when guarding a physical guard like Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook.

Nowitzki later praised Collison for the way he has adapted to receiving some tough love from Carlisle in the guard's first year with the Mavericks. Nowitzki said Collison hasn't wavered and continues to come to the gym early and watch extra game film.

"I'm actually proud of him, how he responds," Nowitzki said. "I think coach has been very hard on him and O.J. (Mayo). But they've both improved tremendously on both ends of the floor, picking up a new system, new players. It's hard. It's hard on guys, especially a young guy who doesn't have a lot of experience.

"There have been numerous film sessions where (Carlisle) went after them pretty good, both of them. And they stuck with it. They kept working."

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