DALLAS – Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki has his own version of the impact a heated dust-up between a player and a coach can have on a team.
"Sometimes a little dust-up can even bring you together,’’ Nowitzki said Tuesday night after the Mavs rallied to defeated the Toronto Raptors, 99-92. "I remember coach (Rick Carlisle) had a dust-up with Jet (Jason Terry) right before the playoffs in 2011 and that probably was the best thing to happen to us because Jet was on his best behavior throughout the whole playoffs.
"Sometimes stuff like that can bring both sides closer together.’’
Like in 2011, the Mavs hope they’ll be able to get closer together again after point guard Rajon Rondo and Carlisle cursed each other early in the third quarter of Tuesday’s game. It all happened when Carlisle was trying to give Rondo some instructions.
Rondo appeared to ignore Carlisle and kept dribbling the ball up the court, and Carlisle raced on the court and called timeout. As Rondo was headed to the bench, Carlisle shouted something at him, Rondo cursed loudly at Carlisle, and Carlisle cursed loudly back at Rondo.
This was certainly not a pretty sight for the Mavs and must have been an embarrassment for the organization, whose dirty laundry got aired right in front of thousands of people and now is being repeated over and over again on national TV.
After the game, Rondo dressed with the media nearby, and then talked a few minutes with Texas Tech coach Tubby Smith, who coached him at Kentucky. Shortly thereafter, Rondo left the locker room without talking to the media.
Carlisle served up his take on what happened, saying: "It’s an emotional game and we had a difference of opinion, so there was an exchange and then in my mind it was over.’’
Asked if the difference of opinion was in regards to play-calling, Carlisle said: "I’m not going to get into that. But in my mind once it was over, it was over.’’
Rondo, though, didn’t play another again in what Carlisle characterized as a coach’s decision. So why did Carlisle pull the plug on his starting point guard, the player the Mavs moved a lot of pieces to acquire in a blockbuster trade with the Boston Celtics on Dec. 18?
"It was made because I’m the coach and that was the decision that I made at the time,’’ Carlisle said. "How many other ways you want me to answer the same question?’’
Center Tyson Chandler, one of the leaders in the locker room and on the court for the Mavs, said the win over the Raptors helped soften the controversy between Carlisle and Rondo.
"I think its two guys that are -- in the heat of the moment – competitive out there,’’ said Chandler, who injured his hip. "Sometimes tempers flare. Mine used to flare all the time.
"Sometimes tempers flare, but at the end of the day we got a win. It’s a good ting we didn’t take an L, because it would have been a little more than it will be now. I think it’ll make them have a conversation, then move on.’’
Amar’e Stoudemire, who scored four crucial points in the fourth quarter during the Mavs’ comeback against the Raptors, believes the dust-up between Carlisle and Rondo will eventually blow over.
"That's basketball,’’ Stoudemire said. "When you're passionate about the game of basketball, you want to win, want to give your best effort in those moments.
"As long as we're able to get over that hump and stay positive about things, we'll be OK.’’