Dallas Mavericks

Rondo faces Westbrook, Harden in his first two games

DALLAS – Rajon Rondo has a not-so-nice reward waiting on him in his first two games since he was saddled with multiple injuries.

The Dallas Mavericks’ point guard gets to face Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook and Houston’s James Harden on back-to-back nights.

Rondo practiced Tuesday for the first time since suffering an orbital fracture to his left eye and a nasal fracture during a Jan. 31 game against the Orlando Magic. The practice session went so well that Rondo will return to the starting lineup for Thursday’s game in Oklahoma City after missing the past six contests while nursing his injuries.

The game against OKC means Rondo will be matched up against Westbrook, who was named the Most Valuable Player in Sunday’s NBA All-Star game after pouring in 41 points. After Rondo finishes chasing Westbrook, the Mavs return home where they’ll face Harden and the Houston Rockets on Friday.

Harden is a heavy favorite to win the league’s MVP this season.

But, first things first – and that’s the power matchup with Westbrook.

"I think he’s been dropping 41 the last 10 games probably,’’ Rondo said. "Yeah, I’ve got Westbrook and then I’ve got Harden the next night.

"So it’s part of coming out here in the West. Every night is a challenge and there’s not going to be one guy to stop, so it’s a team effort."

While that may be true, the Mavs (36-19) are delighted Rondo is back to help with the team effort needed to contain Westbrook.

"We’re going to need him to play Westbrook,’’ coach Rick Carlisle said. "There’s very few guys that can slow him down.

"And Rondo’s got experience and length, and all that helps a little. And we’ve got other guys who have to play him, too.’’