Although the Dallas Mavericks have yet to officially announce the hiring of a new head coach, Cavaliers coach Mike Brown yesterday endorsed the candidacy of Rick Carlisle, for whom Brown served for two seasons (2003-05) as associate head coach of the Indiana Pacers.
"I knew he'd get a chance to come back," Brown said of Carlisle, who is the leading candidate to succeed the fired Avery Johnson in Dallas. "He's a very good coach and his track record speaks for itself."
Brown said Carlisle was instrumental in helping steer the injury-riddled and suspension-ravaged Pacers to the 2005 playoffs following a melee involving fans during a game against the Pistons in Auburn Hills, Mich.
"He was big that year," Brown said of Carlisle. "We ended up making it to the playoffs and beating Boston in the first round. He was the rock, the stabilizing rock, that kept us on track as a team to understand that no matter who is in uniform for us, our job is to win. That's what we get paid for, and when we don't win, everybody's miserable and everybody suffers."
Carlisle's message? "Stay steady, stay even-keeled, and let's go win games and win games the right way," Brown said. "You have to give a lot of credit to him."
When the Pacers had to scour the waiver wire to fill out their depleted roster, even Brown acknowledged he had his doubts about whether the team would win another game. When the Pacers convened for that first practice after the NBA meted out suspensions and fines, Brown said he had trouble recognizing the cast.
"I'll tell you what, at first I thought it was going to be difficult, but after Rick's speech, it was like him doing the Jedi mind trick," Brown said during yesterday morning's shootaround at TD Banknorth Garden. "I was like, 'Yeah, we're going to win with, uh, what's your name again? Britton Johnsen? Yeah, we're going to win with you, Britton Johnsen, and what's your name again?' "
So Carlisle's power of persuasion even worked on him? "I was tricked," Brown said with a laugh. "I was ready to go." Then, peering into a television camera, Brown added, "And that's no knock on you, Britton Johnsen. You did a good job for us."
Wallace hit with dizziness
The Cavaliers were dealt a blow early in last night's 89-73 loss when Ben Wallace
left with 8:20 remaining in the first quarter because of dizziness he said was caused by springtime allergies, and did not return. "You know it's a tough place for allergies, but no one has warned me," Wallace said. "I got lightheaded and my head started spinning." . . . Zydrunas Ilgauskas
, who led the Cavaliers with 22 points in Game 1, hit his first six shots of Game 2. The 7-foot-3-inch center went 5 for 5 from the field in the first quarter to account for 10 of Cleveland's first 19 points, including the first 8. He finished with 19 points on 9-of-12 shooting . . . LeBron James
didn't quite live up to his vow to rebound from his 2-for-18 shooting performance in Game 1. He opened last night by hitting 3 of 6 shots, only to miss his next seven en route to a 3-for-13 first half, making him 5 for 31 in the first six quarters of the series. He wound up making 3 of 11 attempts in the second half (0 for 4 from the 3-point arc) to finish with 21 points on 6-for-24 shooting overall . . . The Cavaliers dropped to 5-2 over the last two seasons in playoff games that followed a loss . . . One reason the Cavaliers were unable to retain a 12-point first-quarter lead (21-9) was the lack of production from their bench, especially in the second quarter when Boston's bench outscored (20-1) and outrebounded (11-4) the Cavaliers' reserves . . . Brown said tape study of Game 1 didn't reveal any great secret of how the Cavaliers managed to hold Ray Allen
scoreless, the first time he's been held without a point in a game since Feb. 26, 1997. "Ray's a great player," Brown said. "It's going to be tough for him to go 0 for 4 again the rest of the playoffs. We felt like we needed to make sure that we stayed as close to him as possible and not give him any airspace." After going 0 for 3 in the first half last night, Allen broke out in the second half, scoring all 16 of his points (on 4-for-7 shooting) . . . After he complained about hard fouls in the first round against the Wizards, James was branded "a crybaby" by Wizards center Brendan Haywood
. Papa John's attempted to seize upon that emotion in Game 6 when the pizza chain made up T-shirts with James's number and the word "Crybaby" underneath, distributing them to Wizards fans before the game. Little good it did Washington, though, as the Cavaliers closed out the series. Yesterday, Papa John's issued an apology to the city of Cleveland and the Cavaliers and offered Cleveland residents the opportunity to purchase a large, one-topping pizza for 23 cents, and pledged to donate $10,000 to the Cavaliers Youth Fund.
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