DALLAS When the Mavericks came out flat against Atlanta Monday night, head coach Rick Carlisle blamed himself... not his players.

"What do I do about it? I've got to coach harder," Carlisle said Wednesday prior to the team's final game before the All-Star break.

Those same characteristics of the Mavericks showed up in practice again on Wednesday.

"We were a little lethargic today, so I got into some guys today," Carlisle said. "This is unfortunately one of the symptoms of our team. We have some guys that are not self-starters."

Carlisle is facing what may be the toughest job of his coaching career, and in the process of trying to get the team to do what he wants them to do. He admits he hasn't exactly been a nice guy.

"There is no question about it," Carlisle said. "I tell the guys all the time, I may be an [BLEEP] but I'm not a bull [BLEEP]. I tell them the truth."

Sometimes the truth hurts, but in this case, the truth doesn't seem to be sinking in.

"I'm going to be enthusiastic, and I may be a dumb [BLEEP] thinking that they can, but until this season ends... however it ends... I m going to approach this every day feeling like every one of these 15 guys can bring us high energy when they step in that door every day," Carlisle said. "If I don't, then I'm doing a disservice to my owner and I'm doing a disservice to our fans."

Carlisle is not letting up, because if says if he does, his players will to do the same thing.

"You've got to be demanding and you've especially got to be demanding if you have guys whose natural tendency isn't to bring it all the time," Carlisle said. "I'm going to have the meter on '10' all the time."


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