Mavs Monday Donuts: 'Ain't Rough Ain't Right'
The Dallas Mavericks celebrated the return to the starting lineup of Chandler Parsons on Sunday night in LA ... and then celebrated a 100-93 victory over the hapless Lakers -- but one that required Monta Ellis to score 18 of his 31 points in the third quarter and a 16-3 closing spurt in the final 6:36.
"If it ain't rough,'' said piano-playing coach Rick Carlisle, likely knowing the tune (info courtesy of DB.com pal Skin Wade), "it ain't right.''
The 41-24 Mavs busted a two-game losing streak and escaped a skid in which they'd lost four of five. This doesn't erase the problems evident in four consecutive road losses by 15-plus points in each, including the back-to-back blowouts at the hands of contenders Portland and Golden State this weekend.
But it beats the heck out of the alternative. And it's a positive because, for starters, Parsons (his statistical importance demonstrated by his seven-game absence) looked lively and healthy and aggressive on the way to 11 points and six rebounds in 35 minutes.
"I'm pleased,'' Carlisle said of Parsons' work. The Poet Coach could have also semi-rhymed in the word "relieved.''
We have on many occasions talked about how the Rajon Rondo relationship with this franchise really is a "relationship" in the most literal, most real sense.
We've said its like a marriage ... And that unless you are the most dysfunctional of couples, you don't get a divorce while you're still on your honeymoon.
I get it: The media honeymoon with Rondo is over, and maybe yours is, too. ... Until you realize how critical it is, in terms of Mavs salary-cap management and roster-building, to keep him.
Coincidentally, Rondo conducted an interview with Yahoo over the weekend in which he talked of how he loves Dirk's sense of humor and how he feels like he is Monta's brother and how he enjoys watching film with Carlisle and how much he trusts Cuban .... And how he has experienced no "change of heart'' in regard to his desire to make this work in Dallas.
He also noted that Carlisle, in practice prep for, say, a trip to California, lets the guys listen to Too $hort and West Coast music. Or, if they are Houston-bound, they enjoy "chop and screw'' or Bun B. New Orleans? It's Lil Wayne. Oh, and while the fellas were in LA, Rondo joined them at a spa owned by Richard Jefferson.
I love it here,'' Rondo said. "I don't dislike anything. I'm not uncomfortable. Of course, the system is different, but I've been here for two months. It's going to take time. Hopefully, sooner rather than later."
"Sooner'' arrived Sunday in LA. Rondo contributed eight points and nine assists and gave effort and nicely shared the backcourt stage with his "brother'' Monta, who shot 12-of-22 to bust out of his slump. Ellis, who'd missed his last eight tries from the arc, was effective inside and out, here also making 5-of-7 treys.
"I'm baaack,'' Ellis said at the end of his FOX Sports Southwest visit with Harp and Followill. ... And it would be nice if Rondo is as "in'' and Monta is "baaack.''
Rondo said in that aforementioned interview that being with the Mavs through tough times is like being in a relationship ... and that just because you get in an argument with your sweetheart, you don't give up on that relationship.
The honeymoon is over? Fine. The Lakers wish to flirt with him? (Fine, and maybe that explains Rondo's production here. Postgame media tries to drag him into joining-the-Lakers talk are part of the gig here.) But there's still some time -- and lots of motivation -- for the Mavs-Rondo marriage to be, um ... well, consummated, I suppose you could say.
Dirk entered Sunday calling this a "must-win.'' That can be dangerous verbal and mental territory because ...
What if you lose?
But The Uberman is no dummy. Part of the reason he was able to label this that ay, we figured, is because the Kobe-less Lakers are awful. The Lakers have 16 wins, and have now lost 21 of last 25 ... and have no go-to guy to close games in which they are competitive, unless you could old pal "Make It Wayne'' Ellington.
LA simply lacks threats. (Not that we're crying for our favorite Love-To-Hate franchise in all of sports.) The Lakers SHOULD get outscored 16-1 down the stretch. So they do. The only guy who drew your eye to him was Kobe, opting to show up at the gym for a change to watch his Lakers. (Or maybe to wink at Rondo.)
The Mavs were as close to full-strength as they've been since the All-Star Break, even with Devin Harris (hand) missing again. The Chandlers on the floor together gives Dallas a unique and productive look and Amar’e Stoudemire (playing alongside TY for the first time) continues to fit in on every level.
What really needed repair, though, is the main thing that's ailed the Dallas offense: The twin slumps of Dirk and Monta.
You get Dirk and Ellis back to shot-making and you get this offense back on track -- and take some of the heat off of Rondo to be the fix-all. Coming into Sunday, Monta, since hurting his hip on Feb. 9, had shriveled to 12.5 points on 35-percent shooting and 15 percent from the arc. Since the All-Star Break, Nowitzki had also averaged 12-and-half or so, and was at 40 percent from the field and only 31 percent from 3-point range.
This has been Dirk and Monta basically combining for 25 points a night ... The sort of number you more than occasionally need from one of them.
Monta says he's fixed. Dirk? He was 5-of-12 for, yet again, 12 points. Work to do there.
Maybe more loosening up while wearing shower shoes during a drubbing of trainer Casey Smith's kid in tennis will help somehow.
"Getting the ball to Monta Ellis in the second half,'' deadpanned Carlisle, "was a very good strategy for us."
Saad Yousef counts 'em down:
*It's scary to think what the headlines would be right now had the Mavs let this one get away. ... but it's fun to think of CP being this good this soon, as he had a total line of 11 points, six rebounds, a couple of assists, a blocked shot and a ankle-breaking drive to the basket in 35 minutes to reult in a +/- of +11. Not too shabby.
*Big 3 Stats: The Mavs had a slight edge on the Lakers in field-goal percentage, shooting 48.7 percent to the Lakers' 46.3 percent ... but they dominated LA from beyond the arc, 34.6 percent to 14.3 percent. The Lakers had a small advantage at the free-throw line, shooting 71.4 percent to the Mavs' 68.2 percent. ... but where Dallas really endured as on the glass. LA had a 41-26 edge with nine minutes to play and ended up with a 47-33 advantage. Carlisle talks of LA as an aggressive rebounding club, but ...
*Mavs Minute Management: There was no "easing in'' Parsons as he played the 35 minutes, third most on the team. And that's a good thing. The only players to play more were Rondo at 36 minutes and the usual minutes leader Monta at 38 minutes. Tyson played a little over 32 minutes and Dirk played 27 minutes. Al-Farouq Aminu played 20, every one of them critical.
We've mentioned a bunch of viable candidates for Player of the Game -- now you vote. Who deserves "The Dirkie''?
Let's make sure we get Al-Farouq Aminu in here. The Chief gave you five rebounds, six steals, three blocked shots and 13 points ... and did it all in not many minutes.
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The other day, Carlisle spoke to Dallas' desperation by saying, "The next win is the best win.'' It was another bit of basketball poetry brought on by the nasty things that happened to the Mavs in Portland on Thursday ... things that repeated themselves in Golden State on Friday.
You got your next win. Now, how about the next-next one?
Here come five straight home games. Tuesday vs. LeBron and the Cavaliers. A breather before Friday against the Clippers. The weekend off before Monday, March 16 vs. the Thunder. Then Wednesday with the Magic in town. Then Friday, March 20, against the visiting Grizzlies.
If you are a poor team, you look at this schedule with dread. If you are the team Dallas thinks it is, you (should) look at it as an opportunity to climb. ... As "rough'' as it figures to be.
We've mentioned Monta's 31 and his 26. That includes six of the final eight points for the Mavs. And to put in perspective, no other player on the team scored more than 13 points for the game.
"I'm baaack''? Indeed.