As owner Mark Cuban was fielding questions about Rajon Rondo before Sunday night’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers, he paused to defend the nine-year point guard.
“I feel bad for Rajon,” Cuban said, “because he’s taking all the blame for guys not hitting shots.”
The Mavs’ top two players, Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki, have been missing more than their share of shots lately.
In the nine games since the All-Star break going into the Lakers game, Nowitzki was 47 of 117 for 40.2 percent, 9 of 29 on 3-pointers for 31 percent, and was averaging 12.7 points per game.
Ellis was 52 of 135 for 38.5 percent, 4 of 29 on 3-pointers for 13.8 percent, and averaged 14.6 points per game.
“One thing for certain in the entire 15 years that I’ve owned the team when our two best scorers are shooting 3 for 20 and 5 for 18, we’re going to lose games,” Cuban said. “Hopefully they’ll bounce out of it.”
While Ellis and Nowitzki are mired in a slump, Cuban said Rondo is not to blame. He is still trying to fit into the offensive scheme after joining the Mavs in a Dec. 18 trade with Boston.
Since the All-Star game, however, Rondo is 38 of 85 for 42.4 percent, 2 of 5 from 3-point range, and is averaging 10.1 points per game.
“It’s easy to point the finger, but I don’t think it’s fair,” Cuban said. “And I’m not defending [Rondo], but we’ve just got to make shots.
“He’s shooting better than most of the other guys on this team since the All-Star break. That tells you something. It’s not Rajon. It’s just we’re not making shots.”
Cuban said the Mavs believe Ellis is injured, but he has told management he’s not injured. Nowitzki, meanwhile, will be 37 on June 19 and may be experiencing some of the struggles players have at his age.
“We’re vigilant about watching his minutes, he’s vigilant about working to keep his body tuned up and ready to play,” coach Rick Carlisle said of Nowitzki.
“There’s never been a 7-1 guy in the history of his league that’s played his position the way he’s played it to his age, and he’s got a lot of good basketball left in him.
“You’re talking about really one of the remarkable careers in NBA history. When it comes to night-to-night and getting him better shots, a big part of that is my responsibility, and I’ve got to find ways to get him better looks.”
The Mavs have a video tribute planned for Cleveland Cavaliers forward Shawn Marion when he plays his final game in Dallas on Tuesday.
Marion, who played for the Mavs from 2009-’14 and helped them win the 2011 title, has announced that he’ll retire after this season.
“We’ll have a nice tribute,” Cuban said. “I haven’t seen it yet, but you know how our video people do. They always do a really good job.”
Family obligations will prevent Cuban from attending Tuesday’s game. But he said he also has a job waiting for Marion once he retires.
Harris out again
Guard Devin Harris is listed as day-to-day after he sat out his second consecutive game Sunday with a bruised right hand.
“It’s not fractured and he’s doing better,” Carlisle said. “I’m assuming there is some swelling, but he’s doing more movement of it.
“He did a little bit of dribbling [Sunday] morning, but he’s not shooting the ball yet. But we’ve just got to stick with the treatment.”
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760