Mavs Win The Battle - And Survive Own War

DALLAS - The Mavs didn't just defeat Toronto on Tuesday at the AAC; they also met an enemy and he is us. 'Dallas vs. Raptors' becomes 'Rick vs. Rondo' as part of a 99-92 Mavericks win.

The Dallas Mavericks can boast of a cornucopia of positive numbers following Tuesday's come-from-behind 99-92 victory over visiting Toronto. Dallas was down by 13 against an elite East team that eventually was held to 13 below its average, records a win to move to 20-5 against the East, and vaults to 39-20 overall.

Oh, and while the Mavs were down nine with about 20 minutes left in the game, they finished the outing down the stretch at plus-16.

Ah, but it's the "how'' that is they story of this volatile night.

About four minutes into the third quarter with Toronto up 62-53, coach Rick Carlisle is yelling out instructions to Rajon Rondo. Frustrated at Rondo's inability/unwillingness to acknowledge him and his instructions, Carlisle calls a timeout. As Rondo comes to the bench, he and Carlisle exchange unpleasantries.

And Rondo never gets back into the contest, Devin Harris (14 points and five assists) and J.J. Barea (13 points and three assists) getting the extra burn to contribute to the comeback.

"It's an emotional game,'' Carlisle said in explaining the conflict. "And we had a difference of opinion. So .. there was an exchange and in my mind, it was over." ... In my mind, once it was over, it was over.''

Well, yes, it was "over'' immediately -- if you don't count those 20 minutes of gametime in which the four-time All-Star and prized trade acquisition cooled his heels and his temper on the Dallas bench.

Rondo's review, essentially in its post-game locker-room entirety: "We won. Discuss it with Rick.

Carlisle was almost as brief and just as terse when addressing whether the benching of Rondo (four points in 18 minutes) was a "basketball decision'' or a "disciplinary decision''?

It was, Carlisle grumbled, a "coach's decision.''

It was clearly more than that, and now the people inside that locker room have to decide if it's going to be a negative. Carlisle surely has some big-picture perspective on ownership's desire to have free-agent-to-be Rondo remain a centerpiece here. Rondo's enough of a basketball savant to know that meshing with this coach will allow him to eventually thrive. The other guys in the locker room know that there really are volumes of positives to take from beating the contending Raptors even while Chandler Parsons (ankle) sits and while Monta Ellis (20 points with a bum hip) and Tyson Chandler (limping about after getting kicked in various tender regions) play.

“They (Toronto) are obviously one of the best teams in the East,'' said Dirk Nowitzki , who contributed 18 points and nine boards. "They play tough. ... It was physical out there, but a lot we made enough plays and I thought we had good energy at the start. ... and (then) we had to dig deep to get this one.”


The digging and the victory -- Dallas' third straight for a homestand sweep -- featured Monta as part of a three-guard lineup, a nice spurt by newcomer Amare Stoudemire, and the Mavericks hitting seven of their first 10 shots of the fourth quarter to push the rally. Dallas' contributions, really, went 10 men deep, featuting Al-Farouq Aminu's nine-points/12-rebounds effort.

Well, as Dallas immediately travels to Atlanta for a 6:30 p.m. Wednesday tip (we'll have the FOX Sports Southwest "Mavs Live'' pregame show at 6) ... it might be more accurate to call this effort one composed of nine-and-half-men deep.

“Sometimes,'' Dirk said, "stuff like that can bring both sides together.”

So, Rick, will Rondo start on Wednesday against the best-in-the-East Hawks?

"That,'' Carlisle answered, "is what we brought him here for.''

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