Mavs 99, Spurs 93: Rondo Night Power Points
The Dallas Mavericks, after nearly a 48-hour buildup, introduced Rajon Rondo as the starting point guard for the first time Saturday night and he -- and maybe the organization, too -- drew a thunderous ovation from the AAC home crowd.
Rondo had a very efficient night overall in this 99-93 win over the depleted Spurs, and was just as advertised. He had good and bad moments, but at initial glance, the good severely outweighed the bad. Rondo played 34 minutes and scored six points on 3-of-11 shooting. Not a great scoring night, but when has Rondo ever been about scoring and shooting efficiency? The answer to that question would be an emphatic NEVER. However, Rondo did contribute one of his baskets in a big-time situation late in the fourth quarter to tie the game up at 84. ... before backcourt buddy Monta Ellis took things over.
The impact Rondo did have on the court came in the form of his nine assists, many that were gorgeous passes to cutting players near the hoop. Rondo had one particular assist to Tyson Chandler late in the third quarter that led to a Chandler dunk that really helped change the momentum. Aside from that, he fit passes into tight windows to Chandler Parsons, Richard Jefferson and others, while also getting the ball out in transition for a 3-pointer by Monta Ellis. As you see above, just dropping the ball to a mate on the break is something he makes look so easy ...
Rondo also contributed with seven rebounds, five on the defensive end, and two offensive boards. Coming into this game Rondo led all guards in the NBA in rebounds. Pretty fascinating aspect of what the 6-1, 186-pound point guard brings, as he in many ways rebounds like a power forward.
Rondo's assist skills were the big talk of town when he was acquired, but a big aspect of his game that flew under the radar was his defense, which was superb in this win. Rondo had a couple of steals but really showed his toughness in drawing four big offensive fouls, one per quarter. The Mavs haven't had this kind of perimeter defense on their team in quite a long time.
“I love Rondo,'' said coach Rick Carlisle. "I thought he played well. He didn’t shoot particularly well, but he did a lot of great things. He did a lot of things that most guys in that position just don’t do – rebounding, making plays, things like that.”
The Mavs traded away a pretty good amount of helpers for the services of Rondo, including veterans Jameer Nelson, Jae Crowder, and Brandan Wright. Because Rondo is a point guard, as is Nelson, "absence'' didn't have much of an effect on the point guard play. Crowder and Wright, however, played roles on the pre-Rondo Mavs, with Crowder playing some power forward and Brandan Wright playing center in an unusually important way. Rick Carlisle tried a lot to mix and match to see what combinations worked, which included Greg Smith getting some time at center and lot of musical chairs at power forward which included Parsons, Al-Farouq Aminu, Jefferson, and of course the starter, Dirk Nowitzki (who struggled mightily).
Carlisle may still be searching for the right match, though, because the flow of the offense in particular didn't really look too smooth for much of the game. A lot of that can be contributed to it being Rondo's first game with the team, but the Mavericks did get out-rebounded by the Spurs 48-40 in a game in which neither Tim Duncan nor Tiago Splitter saw the floor.
Fish is reporting that in addition to names like retired Jermaine O'Neal and trade-bait Greg Monroe, the Mavs are looking at trades for No. 2 centers and at luring present China pro Josh Harrellson back to the U.S. A deal is on the horizon, for certain.
Ah, back to "normal'' at the end of games.
After seeing a couple of other guys, such as Devin Harris, J.J Barea, and Dirk Nowitzki recently close out a few games, here the closing duties were handled by the best closer in today's NBA, Monta Ellis.
Ellis had a ridiculous run to end the game that started with a corner 3-pointer (assisted by Rondo) with 3:32 remaining. He went on to score 11 of the last 13 Mavericks points, and the only time he didn't score, he set it up with a steal on the defensive end that resulted in a Parsons layup in transition. Carlisle's confidence in Ellis was obvious and especially showed when Ellis missed a shot in the last minute, the team got the offensive rebound, gave it back to Ellis and let him take another crack at it. Ellis rewarded the trust with a driving layup, the final points in the game.
Ellis finished with 38 points, tying his highest ever as a Maverick. Not too shabby after there was some foolish post-trade chatter that he and Rondo may not get along and it could have a negative impact on his game. Monta also pitched in an assist and had four steals in playing a team high 40 minutes.
The Mavs edged the Spurs in two of the three "Big 3" offensive categories, shooting 43% to the Spurs 41.6% and shooting 34.6% from beyond the arc to the Spurs 23.1%. The only category the Spurs got the Mavs was free-throw percentage, in which the Spurs shot 100% to the Mavs 80%. It was enough offensive production to get the win against a Spurs team without Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Tiago Splitter, Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, and Patty Mills.
San Antonio rested its stars. Good. The Mavs -- having lost 10 straight regular-season games to the Spurs but now 20-8 and just one of five teams in the league with that many wins -- will take 'em any way they can get 'em.
Usually pretty skilled at keeping the minutes down for his starters, Carlisle had no choice but to ride them for most of the game. Monta played 40 minutes, Parsons played 38 minutes (which would have been more had he not picked up his 5th foul with seven minutes left in the game), Tyson contributed 36 minutes, Rondo played 34 minutes and Dirk contributed nearly 33 minutes. The loss of veteran bench players Jae Crowder and Brandan Wright, along with it being a close game, really pushed Carlisle's hand in this one. It will be interesting to see how Dallas manages the practice schedule in the coming days, with the Mavs hosting the Hawks Monday night at 7:30 p.m. as the next outing: Rest? Or Rondo education? (Heads-up: It's the latter. Dallas will practice at 11 a.m. on Sunday.)
You know the drill: The Mavs win the game, and Mavs fans like you choose the Player of the Game. Who deserves "The Dirkie''? Check out Monta's dagger below, consider it ... and vote here!
“He’s unbelievable. He’s one of the most clutch players I’ve ever played with. He’s got a knack for scoring the ball, especially late. He’s fearless.'' - Parsons on Monta.
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