Blame it on Zaza?
I’ve been wrong about the Mavs’ center. When the Mavs signed Zaza Pachulia as a Plan B to DeAndre Jordan’s about-face, I guffawed. He was a role player, I theorized, not a starter on a playoff squad.
But, I’ll admit, he’s been fantastic. On the court he’s averaging a double-double in points and rebounds. He sets picks. He’s unselfish. He plays hard. And off the court, Pachulia might have been the best Maverick of the season.
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Take his latest benching. Lugging a five-game losing streak into Charlotte on Monday night, head coach Rick Carlisle decided to shake things up by tweaking his starting lineup.
In: Raymond Felton. Out: Pachulia.
“It’s not in my hand,” Pachulia said after the win over the Hornets. “I don’t look at it like I did something wrong. This is a team sport and everybody needs to stay ready for whatever the coach asks.”
Added Chandler Parsons, “Zaza’s been the heart of this team all year long.”
Because of foul trouble to David Lee, Pachulia was called on for six minutes against the Hornets. He played well. And he never grumbled.
Maybe the Mavs stick with their smaller lineup tonight against the Cavs. Or maybe Pachulia gets re-inserted as the starting center. Either way, he’s one headache Carlisle never has to deal with.
Zaza has stepped up, to the thought of being sat down.
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 lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.