By Bryan Murphy
No Rondo, no problem.
The Dallas Mavericks have won four of their last five games without Rajon Rondo since he suffered an orbital fracture in the win against the Orlando Magic last week. The only loss in this Rondo-less five game stretch came at the hands of the Western Conference leading Golden State Warriors. A game in which the Mavs held a 22 point lead until MVP candidate Steph Curry went absolutely bananas in the second half, ending the game with a season high 51 points.
This week was capped off with arguably the biggest victory of the season so far for the Mavs. Coming into Saturday night’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers, the Mavs were 2-10 against the top eight teams in the West. The Mavs also have more road wins than home wins this season, so with Portland coming to the AAC, the Mavs desperately needed that marquee home victory against a top tier team from the Wild West. The 111-101 come-from-behind overtime win tied the Mavs with the Trail Blazers in the standings.
Chandler Parsons took the game over in overtime and knew the resiliency of this veteran team while facing a 16-point deficit in the fourth quarter. “That was such a good team win and no one hung their heads”, Parsons told reporters after the game. “We got an older team that’s been in these situations before so to be able to not give up on that and keep winning against a team that’s very good and ahead of us in the standings is huge.”
The massive win also kept them on top of the team who will come to the AAC Monday night, the Los Angeles Clippers.
Dallas is facing L.A. at just the perfect time. The Clippers have lost four games in a row and to make things worse, it was announced this weekend that Blake Griffin will undergo elbow surgery and be out through the All-Star break. That is colossal for the Mavs seeing as Griffin torched the Mavs for 22 points, seven rebounds, and six assists the one and only time these two teams have faced each other this season. Rondo will be out for this game and throughout the All-Star break as well. That shouldn’t be too detrimental for Dallas seeing as he did more harm than good for the Mavs in that 120-100 loss last month. His stat line in that game: two points on 1-of-11 shooting, 0-of-3 from three-point land, and eight assists.
The Mavs then have one last game before heading to the All-Star break when they host the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night. The Jazz sit near the cellar of the Western Conference at 18-33. That does not mean the Mavs should take them lightly, even though Dallas has one the two previous meetings with them this season, both in blowout fashion. Gordon Hayward is the guy to look out for on this Utah squad. The underrated small forward is averaging nearly 20 PPG and 5 RPG this season and is one of those guys that can score in a variety ways. Parsons vs. Hayward should be the matchup to look out for in that game and if Hayward doesn’t absolutely go off, the Mavs should head to the All-Star break with a win under their belt.
2/9 vs Clippers 7:30 pm
2/11 vs Jazz 7:30 pm