They’ve already had to get accustomed to life without point guard Rajon Rondo. Now, the Dallas Mavericks have to adjust to another element that will rock their world.
Life without center Tyson Chandler, and possibly shooting guard Monta Ellis.
When the Mavs (35-19) host the Utah Jazz (19-33) at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at American Airlines Center, Chandler will sit with a sprained left ankle. Ellis is doubtful with a left hip injury.
Both were injured early in the first quarter of Monday’s 115-98 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Also, Rondo will sit out his sixth straight game while he recuperates from an orbital fracture to his left eye and a nasal fracture suffered Jan. 31 at Orlando.
The injuries left the Mavs without 60 percent of their starting lineup Monday, including their leading scorer (Ellis), rebounder (Chandler) and assist maker (Rondo).
Trying to win games under those dire circumstances is a serious challenge for any team.
“We can compete, but we’re not going to be as good without our better players,” coach Rick Carlisle said after Tuesday’s practice. “I’m not saying anything that’s rocket science.
“We’ve got to get our best players back on the court, but we have to do it in an expeditious but prudent fashion. We can’t rush these guys back if they’re not healthy.”
As the three starters heal, the Mavs are about to receive some front-line help as they’re close to signing center/power forward Bernard James to a 10-day contract. James, who played the past two seasons for the Mavs, just finished playing for the Shanghai Sharks in China, and Carlisle hopes his paperwork is complete in time for him to play against the Jazz.
“If we get it done with [James], yeah, he can step in and he can give us some minutes,” Carlisle said. “We’re hoping we can get it done, but there’s no guarantees.”
The Mavs also are still actively pursuing big man Jermaine O’Neal and are hopeful of acquiring Amar’e Stoudemire if he takes a buyout from the New York Knicks.
Meanwhile, Ellis has played in 218 straight games and doesn’t like to skip any contests. The last time the 10-year veteran missed a game was on April 26, 2012, against Boston in the final game of that season while he was playing for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Carlisle also acknowledged that Rondo is making progress, but still there’s no timetable for his return.
“I’m sure [Rondo’s] activity will increase going forward,” Carlisle said, “and we’ll hope that we can get him back on the court after the [All-Star] break.”
The loss of Chandler, Ellis and Rondo has undoubtedly put a strain on the rest of the players. Yet it also creates chances for those who have played fewer minutes to get the attention of the coaching staff.
“Any time a team has a player down it gives another guy an opportunity to step in and play, and we’re going to have a lot of opportunities for that and a lot of minutes there for guys to come in and contribute,” forward Chandler Parsons said. “So, with or without those guys we’ve got to be ready to play.”
And play, like Carlisle is fond of saying, until they’re fatigued.
“There’s going to be adjustments when you lose guys like [Chandler] and Ellis for sure,” Carlisle said. “We’re hoping it’s not a long-term thing with either one of them, and right now we’re looking at one very difficult game.”
This is the Mavs’ last game before the week-long All-Star break. A break which, considering their health issues, is coming at the perfect time.
“Right now we need the eight days or seven days or whatever it is to heal,” Carlisle said. “We have a lot of work cut out for us [Wednesday] and we’ve got to find a way.”
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760