Crowder tearing up D-League, still trying to prove himself

03/02/2014 9:09 PM

11/12/2014 4:07 PM

Dallas Mavericks forward Jae Crowder posted a triple-double Thursday night for the Texas Legends in the D-League.

And just to prove again that he doesn’t belong in the lesser league, Crowder posted another triple-double on Saturday night for the Frisco-based Legends.

Crowder was joined on both nights in Frisco by point guard Shane Larkin, who contributed 22 points, 10 rebounds and six assists Saturday against the Los Angeles D-Fenders. While being sent down to the D-League may be viewed as a demotion, the Mavs don’t see it that way.

“We know they know how to play,” owner Mark Cuban said. “That’s why we sent them to the D-League.

“Playing like that in that situation gives you a lot of confidence.”

Being demoted behind Wayne Ellington in recent games hasn’t been something Crowder has taken very well.

“I worked too hard in the off-season, I worked too hard during the season,” said Crowder, who contributed 22 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists in Saturday’s 137-126 win. “I’m a basketball player and I love this game.

“You want to keep your spot in the rotation at all times. It’s definitely a wake-up call for me and I’ll just keep working.”

Because of the proximity of Frisco to Dallas, Crowder and Larkin were actually in uniform for five consecutive days.

They dressed for the Mavs’ home game Wednesday against New Orleans, played for the Legends on Thursday against the D-Fenders, dressed for the Mavs’ home game Friday against Chicago, played for the Legends on Saturday, and dressed for the Mavs’ road game Sunday against the San Antonio Spurs.

The Mavs have used the D-League to their advantage a lot more this season than in the past. And Cuban believes at some point all NBA teams will have the same luxury.

Cuban said: “I think every team will have [a D-League] team when it’s all said and done, because teams are realizing the value, and the value of having them close is even more valuable.”

However, Cuban hopes it’s “a long time before that happens.”

Ellington’s strides

Wayne Ellington has come up big since he was inserted into the rotation in favor of Jae Crowder some two weeks ago.

That includes scoring a season-high tying 12 points in Wednesday’s win over New Orleans.

“He’s been playing well,” forward Dirk Nowitzki said. “We love him out there.

“We feel comfortable with him and he deserves his chance.”

Ellington is just glad he’s been able to contribute during a time when the Mavs are in a heated battle to claim one of the Western Conference playoff spots.

“It’s a battle right now for playoff spots and winning is all that matters,” Ellington said. “I feel like everybody understands that and everybody is on the same page and it’s showing.”

Valuable veterans

How much does coach Rick Carlisle lean on veterans to get him where he wants to go?

“Veteran guys are the key to success in this league,” he said. “It’s harder to win consistently with a young team.”

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