Mavericks trying to make do with rookie point guards

Posted Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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As he analyzes what ails his team, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban believes he sees part of why his club is blowing big leads and failing to finish in close games.

When veteran point guard Jose Calderon goes to the bench, his backup is either rookie Shane Larkin or rookie Gal Mekel.

And neither rookie has yet to solve the NBA scene well enough to pick up where Calderon leaves off. Consequently, the Mavs’ offense lags, the execution is poor and huge leads melt like butter on a hot stove.

“There aren’t a whole lot of teams that are playing rookie point guards the way we are,” Cuban said. “Because of the injuries we don’t have that veteran point guard and we don’t have a roster spot to bring somebody in to do it.

“We’ve just got to fight through it. We’ve done a good job of fighting through it, but it’s still frustrating for us, for fans, for the players.’’

Losers in four of their last six games, the Mavs (15-12) will try to fight through their frustrations again at 7 p.m. Monday when they play the Houston Rockets (18-10) at the Toyota Center.

Cuban knows backup point guard help is on the way in Devin Harris. However, Harris, who underwent toe surgery over the summer, recently suffered a setback and will not play his first game of the season until sometime in January.

Getting a stop-gap point guard is not an option because that would require moving a player, because the Mavs already have 15 guys with guaranteed contracts.

In the meantime, Cuban is urging fans to be patient until Harris is able to play.

“We like the guys we have and we’ve got to wait for Devin to come back,” Cuban said. “The best guy that’s available for us right now to play point guard is Devin Harris.”

Monta Ellis frequently has moved over from his shooting guard position to run the offense. But coach Rick Carlisle doesn’t want to do that very often because he believes that takes away from Ellis’ game.

“We just don’t have any continuity when we get our rookie point guards in — we haven’t found the right lineups yet,” Cuban said. “But I don’t want to blame it on them [because] it’s certainly not the rookie point guards.

“You can’t have expectations that they’re going to do all that. Both of those guys are getting better, but we’ve got to make it easier for them.”

Riverboat gamblers?

After Saturday’s 123-108 loss in Phoenix, Carlisle said his team was gambling too much on defense, which disrupts the defensive foundation.

“I think our biggest challenge right now is to stay disciplined in a lot of defensive situations,” Carlisle said. “We’ve had too many gambles, we’ve had too many bad fouls late shot clock, and too many things that lead to chain reactions that we’ve got to eliminate.”

Asked if he felt the Mavs are gambling too much on defense, forward Shawn Marion said: “You can pick your poison with that because if you get [the steal], then it’s a good play.

“And if you don’t get it, then ... . But I think at the end of the day we’ve still got to guard somebody.

Dwain Price, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @dwainprice

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