A portion of Rick Carlisle’s postgame press conference Friday night was spent explaining the impact point guard Rajon Rondo had on his team’s 129-99 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers at American Airlines Center.
Rondo scored just four points, grabbed four rebounds, distributed seven assists and collected four steals. But his floor game in running the offense, and then clamping down defensively on Chris Paul, was the type of game the Dallas Mavericks were hoping for on a game by game basic when they acquired him form the Boston Celtics n Dec. 18.
“Rondo had just as awesome presence in the game tonight on both ends,” Carlisle said. “He’s really developed a good handle on our team now.
“The ball moved tonight, and I give a lot of credit to Rondo tonight. He just kept finding the right people. His play calls were on-point and he had a presence out there defensively that we really needed in this game with Chris Paul out there.”
So how much of the play-calling is Rondo now handling?
“You know, as much as he can,” Carlisle said. “He’s really developed a good sense for our team, when to just push it, when to get into something.”
Rondo, now 19-13 in games he’s played with the Mavs, just seems to have a better sense of where his teammates need and want the ball.
“I think I did a great job tonight as far as play-calling,” Rondo said. “Obviously it’s a lot better when guys make shots.
“I was in there with a great group, which I’m always in there with. But tonight we made some shots and the play-calling I did tonight a little bit worked well for us.”
With crisp ball movement and shot-making, the Mavs improved to 42-25 on the season and moved into sixth place in the Western Conference standings. They just need Rondo to continue playing the way he played Friday.
“He really understands all the guys he’s playing with,” Carlisle said. “And some of these plays where he would steal the ball or deflect it and get it and then make a play to somebody, that’s Rondo.
“That’s where he’s really one of the unique guys I’ve ever seen play.”
Other than giving the fans something to cheer about and going home with a victory, Rondo walked away from Friday’s game feeling good about how the Mavs rebounded from Tuesday’s 33-point loss to Cleveland.
“I think the best thing we did tonight was communicate,” Rondo said. “Our communication was the best we’ve had all year since I’ve been here.”
Rondo, meanwhile, wouldn’t take any credit for slamming the door on Paul, who has been dominating in recent weeks.
“It wasn’t just me,” Rondo said. “It was a collective effort team-wise.
“I’ve got to give my bigs a lot of credit. They helped me out a lot. Some of it was individually, but for the most part it was great team defense.”
Team defense which led to the biggest win of the season for the Mavs against a quality opponent.
“We had a good game tonight against an elite team,” Rondo said. “Tonight we made a stand and we stuck with it for 48 minutes.”