The return of Rajon Rondo from a one game suspension didn’t help the Dallas Mavericks get back to their winning ways, losing 104-94 to the Brooklyn Nets at home as Deron Williams played like the last few years of decline haven’t actually happened.
Good players, old, and hobbled, will still have very good games. Williams is averaging just 13.2 points per game, but it wasn’t so long ago that he was regarded as one of the best point guards in the league, and not all of that ability has disappeared. Williams made quite a fool of someone who thinks of himself as the best in the league, but never has been and never will be.
Williams finished with 25 points, one of five Nets players to score in double figures. This is a team that tried trading pretty much everyone, but is still in the hunt for a playoff spot. In the East, going 24-33 puts you square in the middle of the race. In the West, it would be considered tanking.
The Mavericks did get 20 points from Dirk Nowitzki, but their three guard approach, with J.J. Barea starting next to Monta Ellis and Rajon Rondo didn’t do all too well. Ellis scored just 12 points, Rondo finished with 8, although not having any altercations and shouting contests with head coach Rick Carlisle is something of an achievement.
But while it’s easy to pin a lot of the issues on Rondo, the Mavericks are better when he’s on the floor. The better record before his arrival? It has something to do with depth that was hurt by the trade. Right now the bigger issue is Tyson Chandler not playing more than anything else. Dallas is outscoring opponents by 5.3 points per 100 possessions with him on the court since he made his debut back on December 20th, but on this day, they were a -22 with Rondo on the floor.