Mavs Donuts: Blow-Up? Rondo Sits, Bulls Win
Coach's decision. ... and coach's decision.
Rajon Rondo is a four-time All-Star. This is his offense, as much as it is anyone's, by the nature of both his talent and his position of point guard. His skills as a closer are central to why Dallas acquired him in trade in December, and, previous to Friday, why coach Rick Carlisle was able to praise him as a key to the Mavs' recent clutch play.
Friday night at the AAC called for "clutch.'' It called for a "closer.''
Yet Carlisle didn't call on Rondo, who sat out the final 5:11 of a gut-twisting 102-98 loss to the visiting Bulls.
"Coach's decision,'' Rick said, unwilling to explain further. "It's a coach's decision.''
Of course it is. But what about the "why's?'' Had Rondo played poorly? Maybe his heel is bothering him? What Devin Harris doing something well that merited him getting that time? There is nothing wrong with a "coach's decision'' but there is also much right about a certain level of transparency ...
"It's called coach's decision, and that's how we're going to roll," Carlisle said when pushed more on the subject. "Next question."
Rondo as pivotal to Dallas' win at Memphis on Monday, and after that game, Rick acknowledged that enduring some quirks in his play is worth it because of what a strong finisher he is.
"A guy like that, you've just got to put him in there in crunch time and let him do what he does," Carlisle said then.
So what changed from Monday to Friday?
Replied Carlisle: "Today's Friday. That was Monday. That's where it is. ... Listen, if you want to make it a blow-up story, be my guest. ... Go talk to him. It's a coach's decision."
OK. "Coach made a decision,'' said Rondo, who contributed six points, four assists and two rebounds in his 27 minutes. " It's as simple as that. I've been in this game a long time. It's not like it's the end of the world. I like what Coach Carlisle has done for me this year. I don't have any regrets."
That is a mature take and a relief. Veteran Mavs fans will recall Jason Kidd's re-arrival in Dallas in 2008 after a blockbuster trade and then-coach Avery Johnson's decision to bench him in the final minutes of a big game at San Antonio. Avery didn't explain it very well. Kidd did not respond very well.
Rick isn't explaining this very well. Maybe the situation is salvaged by Rondo responding well.
But inevitably, all of this is going to lead to a bigger question about the Mavs-Rondo marriage and this summer of free agency, when they have decisions to make about repeating their vows.
The Dallas Mavericks (31-14) never led at any point and there is a good reason why. Getting pounded 47-30 on the boards is a formula to lose. ... and it's especially disappointing because in the last three games, Dallas seemed to have solved that issue, beating Denver by tying on the boards, beating Memphis by tying on the boards, and ending up with one rebound more than Minnesota in a third straight victory.
Although the Mavs did tie this game up late -- an arguable endorsement of the "coach's decision,'' one could say -- they couldn't finish the deal. Fittingly, they got a stop by forcing Derrick Rose to put up a tough shot on the last possession, but while down just two points failed to corral the rebound.
A couple of free throws later, the loss was in the books.
The Mavs remain a guy short when it comes to supporting Tyson Chandler in this department. Rajon Rondo is known to have a knack for rebounding, but he only had two rebounds and ... ahem ... wasn't even in a position to get that last rebound since he was a spectator from the bench. Rookie Dwight Powell, the backup "big man" was able to grab a grand total of zero rebounds in 21 minutes, something (else) Carlisle specifically sounded irritated about after the game.
"(Powell) played over 21 minutes and had zero rebounds,'' Rick said. "We had some guys who played quite a few minutes that didn’t get enough rebounds. We’ve got to help Tyson [Chandler]. Dirk got seven, Tyson got 12. We needed our perimeter guys to get more involved in it.”
Today's Mavs Donuts are brought to you by Red Rock Bar & Grill ... sports on the 200-inch screen and live music tonight ... a great North Dallas hangout!
The Mavs lost the shooting battle to the Bulls overall, but found themselves especially in trouble from deep. The Bulls shot 48.7 percent from the field to the Mavs' 45.1 percent. Nothing murderous there. The Mavs were superior from the line, for the record, finishing at 100 percent to the Bulls '85 percent.
Ah, but Dallas' perimeter D allowed the Bulls to convert 56.2 percent of their 3-pointers (to the Mavs' 33.3 percent). That's where Chicago built the early edge that provided enough cushion. Combine that with the aforementioned rebounding problem -- with the Bulls forging a +17 advantage -- and you've got your statistical difference.
"I'm pretty sure you guys know that I wanted to be in the game, but it didn't happen. I did my best to cheer my teammates on." -- Rondo.
Four of the five starters for the Mavs played at least 34 minutes. The only not to hit that mark? Obviously Rajon Rondo at 27 minutes. He would have been over 30 if he had played in crunch time, but his absence their was obviously the story of the game from a minutes perspective. Monta Ellis and Chandler Parsons both played the most at nearly 38 minutes, Tyson Chandler played 36 and Dirk Nowitzki logged 34 minutes.
Four of those guys' numbers are indicators of how much Dallas poured into this game in an attempt to win. The fifth guy? Well, you know what we think about that.
“There are very few correct decisions when you lose games,'' Carlisle said. "I’ve learned that after coaching over 1,000 of these. You’ve got to roll with your gut. When you’re in the position I’m in, you’ve got to take the heat and you’ve got to welcome the heat because that’s what this job is about. You’ve also got to roll with your gut, and so that’s what we did. We just came up short – all of us. And we all own it.”
"Disposition.' It's one of Rick's favorite words, and when Dallas lacks it, it's one of his pet peeves.
“Just physical disposition,'' Carlisle said of what was missing. "We needed to be tougher. We need to be more hit-first. The first quarter was our undoing; we got outscored 30-21. Really, the rest of the game was pretty even. I thought their shot-making, our inability to make key stops – they got two or three threes, they got some tip-ins – it just set the wrong tone for the game.”
"Disposition.'' "Hit-first.'' And "undoing.'' That's three pet peeves all in one paragraph.
Yeah, Rick wasn't happy.
Where do Mavs fans talk about the game and the team? Here on DB.com Boards. And where do we find stuff to talk about? Here in DB.com News Archives ... it's all there, individually stacked for your protection! Dig in!
Before the game, Mavs folks took some time to discuss the news that Shawn Marion is retiring after this season.
We've done the same here, only we've taken it a step beyond How about ex-Mavs champ Shawn Marion for the Hall of Fame?
Rick Carlisle remains perched one win away from 600 in his coaching career. He has a chance to become only the eighth NBA coach with 600 wins and a .590 win percentage ... with a next chance at 600 coming Sunday in New Orleans. We'll have that game on FOX Sports Southwest with Fish joining Dana and Bob on the "Mavs Live'' pregame at 4:30.
Here's the official highlight reel of the game, by the way ... if you can bear it:
"I didn't even notice, honestly. I'm trying to win a game. ... I don't care who was out there. We had our chances." - Dirk, when asked about Rondo's late-game absence.
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