Mavs Kick Their Way Through Florida Sweep
There is no avoiding the reality: The Dallas Mavericks have gotten kicked around in recent days. Going into this weekend visit to Florida, they'd lost four straight, trouble enough to fuel "what's-wrong'' whispers here at DB.com and inside the organization as well. Saturday in Orlando they even kicked themselves, resulting in Rajon Rondo sustaining a nasty head injury.
But in the end, Dallas completed a back-to-back sweep highlighted by a 108-93 domination of the Magic.
“We’ve got a little time now to enjoy this mini-streak,'' Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said, referring to the win in Miami on Friday followed by this success, "and we've got Minnesota (back here in Dallas) on Monday.’’
Well, that's not much time to "enjoy''; look for Carlisle to give his guys some free time to enjoy the Super Bowl as well as their 32-17 record. But among those likely to be in a non-partying mood: Point guard Rajon Rondo, who in the first two minutes of this game absorbed a knee to the face from teammate Richard Jefferson, a fluky incident that resulted in a bloodied nose and a head injury.
“I didn’t see the whole thing, but then I saw the replay it looked completely ugly,” said Dirk Nowitzki, who finished with 11 points. “I saw RJ even has a bruise on his knee, so that tells you how hard, unfortunately, he hit him. ... But (Rondo) is a tough kid, so the docs will check him out and then we’ll go from there. But that was as hard of a hit as I’ve seen in this league.”
Even without Rondo (and without Chandler Parsons, missing a second straight game due to illness), the Mavericks found a multitude of ways to successfully build their road record against Eastern Conference teams to a perfect 13-0. (Dallas now owns the NBA record for consecutive road wins against a conference, 17-0 spanning two seasons.) The centerpiece? Monta Ellis, who finished with game highs of 25 points and 13 assists, working as both the go-to and go-through guy.
“I was just taking what the defense was giving us,” Monta said.
With Rondo out, other backcourt guys also stepped up, Devin Harris giving Dallas 12 points and five assists and J.J. Barea scoring 10 points. Their work helped fuel a Mavs offense that shot 56.8 percent from the field and found enough perimeter openings to hit 11-of-21 from the arc. Inside, Tyson Chandler was a force with 20 points and nine boards against an Orlando team that has now lost eight straight.
It all had to happen without Rondo and Parsons. None of it would've happened without Monta.
“Monta Ellis carried us again,” Carlisle said. “When it got close and very uncomfortable in the last five minutes, he made plays. ... Great players make big plays, and he was huge.”