Another game presents another opportunity for the Dallas Mavericks to do something about their inability to rebound the basketball.
The Mavs were hammered on the boards 47-30 in Friday night’s 102-98 home loss to the Chicago Bulls. That result continued a long-running theme that will likely derail the Mavs’ long-term goals if they don’t start to improve.
“We just got to get a little better,” said forward Dirk Nowitzki, who had seven rebounds against the Bulls. “We’re not the most physical, athletic front line, so we know we all got to get in there and we got to pick up a couple of those long ones here and there.
“I always think when we keep the board game sort of close — we’re not going to win it every night — but if we sort of keep it within range, we’ll give ourselves a chance to win.”
Nowitzki and the Mavs (30-14) hope to keep it within range Sunday at 5 p.m. against the New Orleans Pelicans (22-21) at the Smoothie King Center.
Part of the Mavs’ problem is that they realize they don’t always have to outrebound an opponent to win games.
In the Mavs’ 109-104 victory at New Orleans on Nov. 1, the Pelicans won the rebounding battle 47-44. And in the Mavs’ 112-107 home victory over New Orleans on Dec. 10, the Pelicans drilled Dallas on the boards 45-29.
But when the Mavs are matched against a stout opponent such as Chicago, squeezing out a victory becomes more complicated.
“They were sending their guys and we were boxing out,” center Tyson Chandler said. “Our guys are battling, but we need to do more.”
Chandler grabbed a team-high 12 rebounds against the Bulls and is fourth in the NBA with 12.2 boards per game. But as coach Rick Carlisle said: “We’ve got to help Tyson.”
Carlisle thought he had discovered someone to help Chandler on the boards in center/forward Dwight Powell, who joined the Mavs in the Dec. 18 trade that also brought point guard Rajon Rondo from Boston.
But in 21 uninspired minutes against the Bulls, Powell contributed just four points — and no rebounds.
“We had some guys that played quite a few minutes that didn’t get enough rebounds,” Carlisle said. “We needed our perimeter guys to get more involved in it.”
Whatever the case, the Mavs need a better showing on the boards, or else their long-term goals will have a difficult time materializing.
Rondo benched late
Part of the reason the Mavs acquired Rondo is his ability to show up in clutch situations.
But when Dallas needed clutch plays in the waning moments against Chicago, Rondo was on the bench.
“Coach’s decision,” Carlisle said. “If you want to make it a blow-up story, be my guest.”
Although Rondo wanted to be on the floor in crunch time, he didn’t seem that bothered by watching from the bench.
“Obviously, I want to be in there,” Rondo said. “I’ve been in a lot of big games, a lot of situations. I feel I can help my teammates win, but it was a coach’s decision and that’s what it’s about.
“I’m a competitor and I’m pretty sure you all know I wanted to be in the game, but it didn’t happen and I did my best cheering my teammates on.”
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760