Prior to Friday’s 143-130 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans at American Airlines Center, Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle praised Atlanta Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce for helping spearhead last season’s Coaches For Racial Initiative.

“I will say that Lloyd Pierce as our lead chair on Coaches For Racial Justice has been an inspirational and heroic figure in the coach’s association with his leadership in the fight against racial injustice,” Carlisle said. “He was the major impetus for our forming of Coaches For Racial Justice. He was the one that was the point man and did the work and establishing a relationship with Bryan Stevenson (the founder and executive director of the) Equal Justice Initiative.

“He’s an amazing person and I also believe that he may have been the single greatest impetus — this is going out there pretty strong – but he was the one that was the greatest impetus for getting the Hawks’ arena certified as the first voting center of all the NBA arenas. I’m not exactly sure when that happened, but it led to a situation where then there became right arenas that were certified within their respective counties.”

American Airlines Center was also used as one of the voting sites as it become the largest facility in Dallas County where folks could go vote.

“The number of (NBA) arenas certified went from eight to 22, and Georgia, for the first time in I don’t know how long, became a Democratic state in the electoral vote and then in the runoff elections in January remained a Democratic state,” Carlisle said. “And Lloyd Pierce, I believe, was one of the strongest impetus people for all that to happen.

“I’m just very proud that he’s a friend, very privileged that he’s a member of our association, and he sets an amazing example.”

Carlisle has high regard for Marshall: Before Friday’s game against New Orleans, coach Rick Carlisle was asked what does Mavs chief executive officer Cynt Marshall mean to the Mavs. Carlisle said he wouldn’t know where to begin with that conversation, because Marshall’s impact is very far-reaching.

“All I know is that her hiring was one of the great blessings in the history of this organization – I think (owner) Mark Cuban will tell you that,” Carlisle said. “She has touched the organization and the city on virtually every level. From things related to community, related to basketball, related to social justice, related to equality – on all levels.

“She is just one of the great leaders that I’ve ever been around and she’s really — with the help of the team that she put together — has transformed this organization into one of the great examples of equality and diversity.”

The Mavs hired Marshall in February of 2018 as she became the first African-American female CEO ever in the NBA.

“I’ve gotten to know her well,” Carlisle said. “Again, I just think she’s one of the very, very special people that you meet in a lifetime.

“She’s a great blessing to this organization, to me as a person who’s a friend, and many, many, many others.”

Black History Month reading: For the historic passage involving African-Americans that he reads prior to every game this month during Black History Month, coach Rick Carlisle paid homage to Amanda Gorman, who burst onto the scene when she read a poem at president Joe Biden’s inauguration and at the Super Bowl.

“Amanda Gorman is an award-winning writer and cum laude graduate of Harvard University, where she studied sociology,” Carlisle said. “On Jan. 20, 2021 at age 22 she became the sixth and the youngest poet in US history to deliver a reading at a presidential inauguration, where she recited her poem, The Hill We Climb.

“I know many of you saw that. That was an amazing moment and an amazing poem and an amazing performance, so very memorable.”

Briefly: Don’t look now but the Mavs have moved up five slots in the Western Conference standings in the last five days. The Mavs started the week in 14th place out West. But after the Mavs beat New Orleans on Friday, the good news just kept on coming for Dallas. On the West Coast late Friday night, the Orlando Magic went into Sacramento and shocked the Kings, 123-112. And the Los Angeles Lakers dug themselves out of a dreadful 22-2 hole and defeated the Memphis Grizzlies, 115-105. All of that action moved the Mavs into ninth place out West, and just a game-and-a-half behind eighth-place Golden State (14-12) and only two games behind seventh-place Denver (14-11). The Mavs have won four straight games and five of their last six. . .With the 46 points he scored in Friday’s 143-130 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans, point guard Luka Doncic became just the seventh player in Mavs’ history to score at least 45 points in a game. This also was the seventh 40-point game of Doncic’s career and all of them occurred when he distributed at least 10 assists. On Friday, Doncic dispensed 12 assists and also dragged down eight rebounds. . .Coach Rick Carlisle said the selection for Defensive Player of the Game tonight was not easy, but it was given to guard Jalen Brunson because he talked to his guards about rebounding better and Brunson came through. Carlisle said: “He had six rebounds and took a charge, so he got the belt tonight.”

Twitter: @DwainPrice

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