What Shane Larkin accomplished Sunday against the Brooklyn Nets wasn’t eye-popping. But in the eyes of the rookie point guard from Miami, it was a major step toward his maturation with the Dallas Mavericks.
After starting point guard Jose Calderon was out just 45 seconds into the game with a facial injury, Larkin suddenly found himself playing meaningful minutes for the first time in ages. And he didn’t disappoint.
“I like his effort that night,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “I thought he came in the game, he was plenty geeked up and into it.
“He played aggressive in all areas, he had a couple of shots that didn’t go down, but he was in an attacking mode and he used his quickness into the game. When he came in there he knew he was in there and he was making things happen.”
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Larkin scored five points, handed out one assist and was 2 of 4 from the field in 13 active minutes. At a time when the Mavs needed his production the most, Larkin answered the bell.
“Jose went down and everybody just told me to be ready and I went in there and played pretty well in the first half,” Larkin said. “Coach Carlisle called some high screen-and-rolls for me and I got some guys some shots and made a couple of layups.”
Larkin, though, knew the extra minutes would be short-lived, especially with Calderon back in the starting lineup Tuesday against Oklahoma City. But that’s life in the NBA as a rookie on a team scrambling for a playoff spot.
“It’s difficult going from playing every game in college, playing 36 minutes a game, to coming here and not playing,” Larkin said. “Before I was playing like 10 minutes, 12 minutes — and not playing — and sometimes getting thrown in for five minutes here, six minutes here.
“It’s tough, but over the year I’ve just gotten the mentality to always stay ready because you never know when your opportunity is going to come. Whenever I do get the opportunity I just want to take full advantage of it and be able to produce, so that’s just the mentally I go in with every game.”
As the Mavs watch the NBA standings, there’s one thing that’s constant.
“You look at Phoenix and Memphis, those guys are winning and playing winning basketball,” forward Jae Crowder said. “We just have to win as well.
“We don’t have to worry about anybody else. If we win [our] games, we’ll be fine.”
The Memphis Grizzlies have won eight of their past 10 games and the Phoenix Suns have won six of their last seven.
The Mavs had won four of six going into Tuesday’s game, and lost ground to the Grizzlies and Suns in recent weeks. But the schedule-maker has given the Mavs a reprieve.
On April 12, the Mavs host the Suns. Then they’ll have three days off before ending the regular season in Memphis.
Crowder praises SMU
Crowder was at Moody Coliseum on Monday night and was impressed with SMU’s 80-67 second-round NIT win over LSU.
“They’re a good team,” Crowder said. “The Moody crowd, the atmosphere is unbelievable the way they’re turned it around and made it a program that’s exciting to come watch.
“They have a good atmosphere and a good team.”
Crowder plans to attend Wednesday’s game at Moody between California and SMU. Tipoff is at 8 p.m.