A heated exchange of unpleasantries between Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle and point guard Rajon Rondo early in the third quarter served as a backdrop to Tuesday’s 99-92 victory over the Toronto Raptors at American Airlines Center.
The win padded the Mavs’ record to 39-20 on the season, and they finished this homestand 3-0. The only other time this season that the Mavs swept a homestand consisting of two or more games was Dec. 26-30 — when they went 3-0 against the Lakers, Thunder and Wizards.
Conditions, however, don’t get any easier for the Mavs, who had to rush to the airport after Tuesday’s game to brave inclement weather and catch a flight to Atlanta, where they’ll play the Hawks at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Philips Arena. It will be a revenge game for the Mavs, who dropped a 105-102 decision to the Hawks in Dallas on Dec. 22.
This also will be the Mavs’ fifth game in seven days since the All-Star break. But the Mavs hit the road for this one-game trip brimming with confidence. They’ve won 17 straight road games against Eastern Conference teams dating to last season, including all 13 this season.
The heated words exchanged between Carlisle and Rondo, however, weren’t something the Mavs wanted to take with them to Atlanta as they’re trying to secure one of the top four Western Conference playoff spots.
The Carlisle-Rondo meltdown started when the Raptors were in the midst of a rally and leading 62-53, and Carlisle wanted a timeout with 8:10 left in the third quarter. Rondo either didn’t see Carlisle or ignored him.
Either way, Carlisle came onto the court, angrily signaled for a timeout and then said something as Rondo walked by. Rondo, who has a reputation of being an edgy player, then shouted a couple of unprintable words at Carlisle, and Carlisle shouted those same unprintable words back at Rondo.
Following the timeout, Devin Harris replaced Rondo and the Mavs — thanks to a layup by Harris after he broke down the Toronto defense — tied the game at 71-71 with 2:05 left in the third period. Rondo never got back in the game and finished with four points, two rebounds, four assists and two turnovers in 18 minutes.
With Rondo out, the point guard combo of J.J. Barea and Harris shined and helped the Mavs regroup and get the victory.
Chandler Parsons missed his second straight game Tuesday, and will also sit out against the Hawks with a sprain and bone bruise to his left ankle that occurred during Friday’s win over the Rockets. Richard Jefferson again started in Parsons’ place and contributed 11 points.
Tuesday’s game afforded Carlisle the opportunity to match wits against one of his friends — Raptors coach Dwane Casey. From 2008-11, Casey was an assistant on Carlisle’s staff in Dallas, working admirably as the team’s defensive coordinator when the Mavs captured the 2011 NBA title.
The Raptors led 55-49 at the half and 77-74 headed into the fourth period. They also led by as many as 13 (51-38) late in the second quarter.
Still, the Mavs’ comeback was overshadowed by the heated exchange of words between Carlisle and Rondo, who came to Dallas on Dec. 18 via a trade with Boston.
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760