DALLAS – Chandler Parsons glanced at the final stat sheet in his first game of the season and not once did he wince.
Sure, Parsons knows he missed five of his six shots during Sunday’s 103-93 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. But that dreary news failed to tell the true story on what the Dallas Mavericks’ small forward was able to establish in his first game since he had a hybrid micro-fracture surgery to repair cartilage damage to his right knee.
"The least of my worries right now is making shots,’’ Parsons said after Tuesday morning’s shootaround at American Airlines Center. "My legs are going to be tired, I’m going to be rusty.
"Those (shots close to the rim) are going to fall. I’m just going to keep setting up others, keep playing defense, keep working on the little things that coach has been preaching and the shots are going to fall and those layups are going to fall.’’
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Parsons played 12 minutes against the Lakers and will remain on a minutes restrictions when the Mavs (2-1) have their season opener tonight at 7:30 at AAC against the Toronto Raptors (3-0).
Coach Rick Carlisle said it will be a slow and gradual process working Parsons back to his normal minutes.
"It’s just going to take time, but he’ll do better and better as we go along,’’ Carlisle said. "This is something we’re not going to mess around with or take chances with.
"It’s going to be gradual, it’s going to be done the right way, and as he tolerates it we’ll be able to increase the minutes as we go along.’’
Shooting guard Wesley Matthews, who had surgery on Mar. 11 to repair his torn left Achilles, also is having his minutes watched closely by Carlisle. Matthews played 26 minutes in last Wednesday’s season opener at Phoenix, sat out Thursday’s game at the Los Angeles Clippers as a precaution, and then played 26 minutes against the Lakers.
"We don’t have a set minutes limit on Wes,’’ Carlisle said. "We’re saying 26-28, but Parsons is the one where we have a real finite ceiling at this point, and so going forward I’m looking at not only the state sheet and who’s played the actual minutes, but how guys are being subbed and how tired they look.
"It isn’t a matter of discipline, it’s just a matter of it’s a limitation on minutes and you’ve got to stick to it. There are ways we can move guys around in the rotation to maximize guys being fresh.’’
Somewhat like Parsons and Matthews, point guard Deron Williams is on the Mavs’ minutes radar after he missed the first six preseason games while having issues with both of his calves. Williams played 20 minutes against the Suns and 31 against the Lakers, but did not play against the Clippers due to a sprained left knee.
"We just want to be smart about,’’ Carlisle said of Williams’ minutes. "Is there an exact number? No.
"Is there an estimated number? Probably.’’
Carlisle said Williams’ minutes sneaked up on him and reached the 30-minute mark against the Lakers before he knew it.
"Hey, I’ve got to watch it,’’ Carlisle said. "We’ve got plenty of guards, so we’ll deal with it.
"He’s an important guy and we want to get him through these couple of little injury things.’’
As far as Parsons goes, he collected two points, three rebounds, three assists and a steal against the Lakers.
"It was really about what you would expect,’’ Carlisle said. "The rhythm is tough the first time you step out there on the one hand, but he moved well, he had no issues.
"A couple of his shots looked good, even though they didn’t go in. And all of that will improve as he plays more games.’’
Parsons knows he’ll have to take baby steps until his conditioning returns to form. Still, the competitor in him wants his minutes to increase immediately.
"At the end of the day it’s their call and I’ve got to go at their speed,’’ Parsons said. "Continue to just shake off the rust, get back into game shape and make plays.
"The positive thing was I was getting to the paint easy. I’ve just got to convert.’’
Carlisle knows that will come in due time.
"I’m glad he got a little action under his belt before the home opener,’’ Carlisle said. "I think starting out at home in the home opener – the first game of the year – I think that’s a hard thing to ask a guy to do.’’
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