The Dallas Mavericks needed this. After getting embarrassed by the Cleveland Cavaliers and hitting rock bottom on Tuesday, Dallas demolished the Los Angeles Clippers 129-99 on Friday night. Yes, L.A. was without Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford, but make no mistake about it, this was a huge win. Here five important things I took away:
1. Parsons shines: In his third game back after an ankle injury, Chandler Parsons was phenomenal against the Clippers with 22 points, five rebounds, four assists and five three-pointers.
This game showcased why Parsons is worth every penny of his contract, and why he is so important to Dallas’ offense. Once can argue that Parsons might be the Mavs’ most muti-dimensional player. When he shoots well, it opens up the Mavs entire offense. Him missing so much time was part of the reason the Mavs offense was so bad over the past few weeks, and him coming back so strong can’t be talked about enough.
2. Tyson vs. DeAndre: The biggest concern I had coming into this game was how the Mavs would contain DeAndre Jordan, who has been on a tear lately. The Mavs didn’t exactly contain Jordan, as he went for 16 points and 18 rebounds, but Tyson Chandler was able to match him with 14 points and 12 rebounds. I don’t think anyone really expected Dallas to shut down Jordan, but Chandler being able to battle and hold his own against Jordan was a big difference. It was also nice to see Chandler slowly come back to form after his hip injury.
3. Offense returns: After looking flat and out of sync for the better part of a month, the Mavs’ offense may have finally broken out on Friday. Dallas shot 60.7 percent from the field and and 57.1 percent from the three-point line against the Clippers.
“That was probably as good as it has been in a long, long time,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “With the shot making, with moving the ball, with penetrating and getting in the lane, finding open guys, I just thought overall it was great energy in the game.”
Granted, the Mavs aren’t going to shoot 60 percent night in and night out, but this certainly was a step in the right direction after weeks of rough offensive performances. Rick Carlisle gave a lot of credit to Rajon Rondo for helping right the ship.
“Rondo had just an awesome presence in the game at both ends,” Carlisle said. “He’s really developed a good handle on our team, so with 15 left I loved the way he played tonight.”
Speaking of Rondo…
4. Rondo’s play: Rondo has been the biggest scapegoat for the Mavs’ struggles recently, but I really liked what he was able to do against the Clippers. The stats may not look that impressive, four points, seven assists and four steals, but Rondo looked really comfortable running the offense against the Clippers. That’s something which hasn’t happened in, well, a while.
“I think I did a good job tonight as far as play calling,” Rondo said. “Obviously it’s a lot easier when guys make shots, so I was in there with a great group, which I always am in. But tonight we made some shots, and play calling I did tonight a little bit.”
Remember a few weeks ago when Rondo and Carlisle got in a heated exchange after Rondo appeared to ignore one of Carlisle’s play calls? Well that seems like ages ago, as it appears that Carlisle as given Rondo a bit more freedom to run the offense and call the plays.
“He’s really developed a good sense for our team,” Carlisle said. “When to just push it, when to get into something, he really understands all the guys he’s playing with.”
This is exactly what needed to happen for the Rondo-Dallas marriage to work. Carlisle needed to keep his finger on things at the start, but eventually the responsibilities would have to go to Rondo, and it looked like it finally worked tonight.
“Its just been gradual,” Rondo said. “The trust is coming more and more better between coach and I. It’s tough to give a guy keys to the car when he first gets there. Tonight, we were on the same page a lot. We were on the same page, as far as play calling.”
It wasn’t only running the offense, Rondo also held Chris Paul to just 11 points and seven assists. Paul has been playing like an MVP candidate lately, and Rondo being able to keep him in check with huge for Dallas.
“It was a collective effort, team wise,” Rondo said. “I got to give my bigs a lot of credit, they helped me out a lot. Some was individual, but for the most part it was great team defense.”
The Rondo/Carlisle play calling conundrum has been one of the biggest story lines. The fact that the two are slowly starting to build what seems to be a good relationship after wanting to go at each other’s throats a few weeks ago is incredibly promising. Amazing how things can change so quickly.
5. The standings: The win against the Clippers gives Dallas sole possession of the No. 6 seed in the West. That’s pretty good for a team that has looked miserable lately. The loss against Cleveland might have been a turning point for this team. Chandler said getting blown out Tuesday had a big effect on Dallas.
“I think before [the Cleveland loss] everyone was kind of skating on thin ice, not knowing which way to go and not wanting to step up on toes and all that,” Chandler said.
The Mavs still have a tough schedule coming up, and playing like this won’t happen every night. But, a 30 point win after a 30 point loss certainly sounds like a turning point to me. If that’s the case, then these Mavs might be close to figuring it out.