One of the reasons the Dallas Mavericks traded for Rajon Rondo some six weeks ago was to help prevent what happened to them Wednesday night at Oracle Arena.
Steph Curry torched the Mavericks for a season-high 51 points – including 26 in the third quarter – to pace the Golden State Warriors to a 128-114 victory.
Would things been different if Rondo had been healthy and able to play?
“You can’t lament guys that aren’t here,’’ coach Rick Carlisle said. “We believe in all the guys that we got, and look, it’s not one guy coming up short.
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“We got who we got right now, and that’s where we are. And we have to make it work with the guys that we have.’’
Rondo missed his second straight game after suffering an orbital fracture to his left eye and a nasal fracture during last Saturday’s game in Orlando when he was accidently kneed in the face by teammate Richard Jefferson. A decision may be made as soon as Thursday on if Rondo will have to have surgery to repair the damage.
The Mavericks acquired Rondo from Boston on Dec. 18 specifically for occasions like Wednesday. Rondo is a strong defender whose calling card is slowing down offensive wizards like Curry, who was 16-of-26 from the field, including 10-of-16 from 3-point range.
Curry lit up point guards J.J. Barea and Devin Harris, and the latter wasn’t totally healthy after Minnesota’s Nikola Pekovic fell on his left leg in Monday night’s Mavericks-Timberwolves game. Even forward Chandler Parsons got a crack at defending one of the NBA’s most dangerous shooters.
“You hear talks that he’s the best shooter ever,’’ Parsons said. “I tried to guard him there for a little bit and just used my length, but his first step was so fast I got two cheap fouls.’’
Parsons admittedly couldn’t keep pace with Curry.
“My arm is extending and the dude is still hitting shots three and four feet behind the line,’’ Parsons said. “But it’s crazy just because he’s almost even a better shooter off the dribble.
“He’s unbelievable. I’ve never seen anything like it, and when that happens you’ve got to throw bodies at him and just get the ball out of his hands at all cost.’’
Monta Ellis has seen Curry dominant teams many times before. The duo were teammates with Golden State from 2009 until the Warriors traded Ellis to Milwaukee on Mar. 13, 2012 – mainly to free up more playing time for Curry.
“He’s got unlimited range, he practice those shots every day, and if you’re not up close enough he know how to create space and get that shot off,’’ Ellis said. “He’s just a great shooter.’’
Curry put on shooting clinic all night, particularly in the third quarter when he was 8-of-11 from the field – 6-of-7 from 3-point range – in piling up 26 points. The Mavericks looked so defenseless at the time, and there was no Rondo around to help stop the bleeding.
“He’s one of the best, especially when he gets going,’’ said Berea, who started out defending Curry. “He’s the best in the league when he gets going.
“You just got to give all the credit to him. He made some shots and he looked like the best player in the NBA.’’
Curry’s performance overshadowed an outing which saw the Mavericks break out to a 24-4 lead that eventually mushroomed to as much as 40-18 with 1:21 remaining in the first quarter. But Curry and his teammates quickly got the Warriors within 62-58 of the Mavericks at the half.
Then came that spectacular shooting display by Curry in the third period.
“He’s definitely the best shooter in the league,’’ said Tyson Chandler, who had 21 points and 17 rebounds. “It seems like every time he has a little bit of daylight it’s going in.
“Even when he doesn’t have a little daylight, and the fact that he can dribble the ball so well kind of keeps the defense at bay and makes it that much more difficult.’’
Especially if Rondo isn’t available.
“I knew Devin was banged up and he was playing hurt,’’ Parsons said. “So I thought I’d just give him a different look.
“But clearly that didn’t help, either.’’
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760