Imagine if Rajon Rondo cared half as much as J.J. Barea. He would still be a Maverick, and his team wouldn’t be on the brink of elimination from the 2015 NBA Playoffs.
But while Rondo and his “back injury” are already dreaming of playing elsewhere next season, Barea and the undermanned, overachieving Mavericks played an inspired game on Sunday night that – at least for two more days – spared them the guillotine.
Without the banished Rondo and the injured Chandler Parsons, the Mavs hustled and fought and clawed their way to a 121-109 victory over the Rockets in Game 4 that at least forced a Game 5 Tuesday in Houston.
I still think it’s too little, too late. But the way the Mavs played last night had to make you proud, and considering the adversity they faced losing to the Rockets in five is no shame.
It is frustrating, of course, that they’re a Monta Ellis jumper at the buzzer of Game 3 from a 2-2 series.
Grasping at any sort of straw to shove his team back into the series, head coach Rick Carlisle inserted the pesky Barea and the energetic Al-Farouq Aminu into the Game 4 starting lineup. Inspiration, they say, is born out of desperation.
Ellis, a free-agent-to-be whose next Mavs’ game might just be his last Mavs’ game, had another 30-point night, Dirk Nowitzki scored 10 points in the fourth quarter and Tyson Chandler bravely battled dominant Rockets’ center Dwight Howard. But it was Barea, like a relentless, stubborn fly buzzing around your picnic, producing a double-double with 17 points and 13 assists.
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In other words, he played a better game at point guard last night than Rondo ever did as a Maverick.
Aminu, the Mavs’ answer to Houston’s Corey Brewer, added 16 points and 12 rebounds and when he and Barea were on the court together, Dallas outscored Houston by a whopping 25 points.
It was probably a one-game fluke. A futile burst of energy from a fatally ill body. No team has ever rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series and I don’t expect the Mavs to make history.
But at least for one night, they made us proud. And made us forget Rondo.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.