It’s been 11 games since the Dallas Mavericks acquired point guard Rajon Rondo in a blockbuster trade with the Boston Celtics.
Since then, the Mavs have posted a 7-4 record while trying to get adjusted to Rondo and his no-look and behind-the-back passes.
“He’s a little bit different than a lot of point guards in this league, but he’s been very, very effective and he’s helped us,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “He’s just a very good all-round player, he impacts the game in many, many ways.
“Defensively, we’ve gotten better since he’s been here. He gets a lot of rebounds, he gets deflections and steals, and offensively he makes plays.”
As they transition to a new leader with Rondo running the show, the Mavs expected there would be bumps in the road. They just hope they’re able to iron out those bumps pretty soon.
“We know that we haven’t arrived or where we want to be,” forward Dirk Nowitzki said. “We want to be a tough defensive team with Rondo putting pressure on the ball, keeping guys out of the lane, good pick-and-roll defense.
“And offensively we’ve got to play together, we’ve got to keep moving, we’ve got to keep the game random and let Rondo direct a great game, which he’s great at in making stuff happen off the dribble and passing the ball. So you’ve got to give him that chance.”
Rondo has been all over the map since joining the Mavs. He had 13 points, 11 assists and three steals in a loss to Atlanta; 13 points, six rebounds, eight assists and five turnovers in a loss to Phoenix; 21 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in a victory over the Los Angeles Lakers; and a season-high 29 points with a career-high five 3-pointers in seven attempts in his homecoming game against the Celtics.
In the last four games, however, Rondo has combined to score just 14 points, making 7 of 37 shots for a frosty 18.9 percent. Rondo has 23 rebounds and 38 assists over the past four games, but it’s clear that shooting the ball is not his forte.
“It’s a roller coaster, especially right now for me,” said Rondo, who had seven turnovers in Wednesday’s home loss to Detroit. “I’ve had some good games, some bad [games], some high turnovers, and some low turnovers.
“I just got to keep shaking the rust off and continue to get better and continue to trust my teammates and learn their rhythm.”
During Saturday’s 120-100 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, Rondo produced eight assists but just two points, and was only 1-of-11 from the field.
“He had a rough day shooting the ball,” Carlisle said. “It happens.
“We’ve got to circle the wagons and get ready for the next one.”
The Mavs will get ready for their next game when they practice Monday in Los Angeles, then fly to Sacramento and prepare to play the Kings on Tuesday night.
In addition to his passing skills, Rondo has assisted the Mavs with the challenges they have rebounding the ball. In his 11 games with Dallas, Rondo is averaging 5.5 rebounds per game.
“Rondo is a great defensive rebounder,” Carlisle said. “He’s helped us there, but we just can’t depend on that one point-guard trade to solve our challenges on the defensive boards.
“We need everybody to do it.”
While the Mavs have been engaging in more drills geared to improve their rebounding deficiencies, they’ve also looked to Rondo to shore up the defense on the perimeter.
“We felt we were better defensively than we were last year, at least on paper coming into [this season], and that was true off the first 15 or 20 games,” Carlisle said. “But we still weren’t where we needed to be, and that’s one thing that facilitated the [Rondo] trade.
“Since then we’ve moved up defensively, we’ve been good offensively too. But there’s still a transition process that’s going on.”
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760