DALLAS – The face of the Dallas Mavericks – Dirk Nowitzki – said he’s not been informed on why exactly point guard Rajon Rondo is no longer slated to play any more basketball games with this franchise.
"I wasn’t there if (owner Mark) Cuban or them talked to him,’’ Nowitzki said after Friday morning’s shootaround at American Airlines Center. "I wasn’t there, so I think that it’s something I don’t or can’t comment on.
"Maybe later on I’ll get enlighten more and I’ll be in the loop. But as of now I’m focusing on who’s here and we’ve got an important game tonight in front of our home crowd, and that’s how I look at it.’’
On Wednesday, coach Rick Carlisle said Rondo sustained a back injury early in the first quarter of Tuesday game against the Houston Rockets. But after the game – when Rondo was benched after playing 10 listless minutes – Carlisle said he didn’t put Rondo back in the game because of the effectiveness of J. J. Barea and Raymond Felton.
It all made for a weird situation for the Mavs, who engineered a blockbuster trade with Boston to acquire Rondo on Dec. 18 with extreme high hopes of him being the missing piece in their bid to win a championship. But all of that came crashing down in Game 2 of this best-of-seven series with the Rockets on Tuesday when Rondo all but mailed in a performance that Carlisle and the Mavs weren’t pleased with.
"It's been a strange couple of days for this franchise, but I think when you're down and stuff is not really going right, you focus on yourself and what you have to do to get ready to play,’’ Nowitzki said. "You focus on the guys that are here, you focus on the game plan, you make a few adjustments and go from there and let it all rip.
"I've been in this league for 17 years, I’ve even dealt with some personal issues in the playoffs, which was ugly. I don’t know if anything happened with (Rondo’s) back. I didn't talk to him.’’
Game 3 of the Mavs’ series with the Rockets is at 6 tonight with Houston holding a 2-0 lead after winning the first two games on its home court.
The Mavs are hoping to overcome the Rondo crisis, knowing fully that the also have three other points – J. J. Barea, Devin Harris and Raymond Felton – they can turn to and get immediate results. Barea will likely start tonight, Harris will play after overcoming an injured left great toe which forced him to miss Game 2, and Felton has been a welcomed bonus when called upon.
"Injuries are part of life in the NBA,’’ Carlisle said. "Houston has injuries, too.
"Two of their regular guys haven't been available and other guys are stepping up and that's what we'll have to do. Distractions aren't the issue, we just have to make sure we're ready to play.’’
But how do the Mavs regroup and overcome a distraction of this magnitude in the middle of a playoff series?
"It’s not a great situation, I just said it,’’ Nowitzki said. "But we’ve got guys that’s been around the block.
"We had a four-guard rotation pretty much all year around.’’
And three of those guards will be on full display tonight when the Mavs attempt to climb back into this series.
"Ray has been a starter in this league for a long, long time, J. J. and Devin obviously have been around,’’ Nowitzki said. "J. J. won a championship with us here, so as far as I look at it we’ve got three good guards.
"All three of them are going to contribute at some point of the game tonight. Nobody knows what the rotation looks like at this point and how the minutes are going to work out, but I know all three of them are going to be ready -- if Devin is fine with his toe -- and we’ll go from there.’’