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Diskusia: Wins harder to come by for Mavericks without Rondo /VIDEO/

5.2.2015 04:59

The Dallas Mavericks are the latest Western Conference contender forced to hunker down into survival mode.

The Dallas Mavericks are the latest Western Conference contender forced to hunker down into survival mode.

It took just one game without injured point guard Rajon Rondo to discover how difficult this could get. The eight-win Timberwolves pushed Dallas to the final possession before the Mavs secured the 100-94 victory on their home floor.

"Listen, no Rondo right now," veteran forward Dirk Nowitzki said after the game, "we'll take any win we can get."

The stakes get raised significantly tonight at Golden State, followed by a tough back-to-back capper at Sacramento on Thursday night.

Rondo is not on the trip, and how much time the Mavs newest floor general will miss remains uncertain. He sustained an orbital fracture to his left eye as well as a nasal fracture when teammate Richard Jefferson inadvertently plowed a bent knee in mid-stride into Rondo's face.

The length of Rondo's absence will become clearer when it is determined if he will need surgery.

Compounding the issue was the late-game leg injury to reserve point guard Devin Harris, who is listed as questionable for tonight's game. If Harris can't play, Dallas will be left with only J.J. Barea and little-used Raymond Felton as available point guards.

Dallas is 13-8 in games Rondo has played since joining the Mavs on Dec. 19. The record might not be eye-popping, but his effect on Dallas' previously porous defense has been nothing sort of remarkable.

Before Rondo, Dallas ranked 20th in the league in defensive efficiency, allowing 105.1 points per 100 possessions. With Rondo, that total has dropped to 100.6 points per 100 possessions, seventh in the league.

Without Rondo against Minnesota, the Mavs started the under-6-foot Barea next to gambling defender Monta Ellis. That combo is sure to provide coach Rick Carlisle more than a few Alka-Seltzer moments.

But that's life in the big city and the Mavs, 33-17 -- and one of four teams separated by just one game in the middle of the Western Conference playoff race -- won't find sympathy around the league, or empathy from a number of their injury-hit West rivals.

And in the West, everybody knows one bad week can cost you big in the standings.

Dallas is the seventh West contender to lose a starter to injury. Among the West's top eight teams, only the Los Angeles Clippers and Phoenix Suns have not been hit (as they both knock on wood). And then, of course, there's snake-bitten Oklahoma City.

With a little luck -- and the Mavs at least have fortuitous timing with the week-long All-Star break just five games away -- Rondo's absences could be minimal. 

Until now the Mavs have avoided serious injury. Entering tonight's game, they've lost 40 man games, the total number of games missed by a team's players due to injury or illness, and Felton, who sprained his ankle in the preseason, is responsible for 26 of those (not including the four-game league suspension he served).

Only Chandler Parsons and Dirk Nowitzki have missed as many as three games and the latter's absences were all coaches decisions for rest. Parsons missed two games over the weekend with a stomach bug.

Memphis has had it relatively easy with 29 man games lost. It avoided an ankle scare with point guard Mike Conley (four games missed), but critically important power forward Zach Randolph went down for nine games with a knee injury. The Grizzlies (36-12) went 4-5 without their double-double machine, making them 32-7 with Z-Bo in the lineup. Reserve guard Vince Carter is now out indefinitely with a foot injury.

The rest of the West's best (and we do include the Thunder) have had much more to deal with:

* Golden State (60 man games lost): Forward David Lee (now in a reserve role) missed the season's first 24 games (all but six minutes in game No. 4). Center and defensive anchor Andrew Bogut has missed a total of 14 games with a stretch of 12 in a row. The Warriors (38-8) are 9-5 in games without Bogut. So how's this for scary: they're 29-3 with him. 

* Portland (97 man games lost): Center Robin Lopez, critical to easing defensive and rebounding responsibilities on LaMarcus Aldridge, returned Tuesday after missing 23 games. The Blazers (33-16) clearly aren't the same team without their Captain Caveman-lunch-pail center, having gone 13-10 in his absence. Portland avoided injury Armageddon when Aldridge recently decided to put off thumb surgery and an expected six- to eight-week setback.

* Houston (100 man games lost): Starting forward Terrence Jones             was injured in the fifth game of the season and missed the next 40 games (and is now in a reserve role). Point guard Patrick Beverley has missed a dozen games and center Dwight Howard has missed 16 games and counting. Coach Kevin McHale and the Rockets (33-15) have done a phenomenal job of juggling and adjusting to lineups. They've gone 11-5 in games without Howard.

* San Antonio (112 man games lost): Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard missed the opener with an eye infection and then missed 17 of 19 games from Dec. 10 to Jan. 14 with a hand injury. Point guard Tony Parker missed 14 games dealing with a stubborn hamstring injury. The Spurs (30-18) went 7-7 in games without Parker and 9-9 in games without Leonard. In games without both they were 5-6.

* Oklahoma City (135 man games lost): At the start of the season it seemed as if the injury bug had gnawed on just about everybody. A hand injury to Russell Westbrook (14 games missed) sustained in the season's second game and now a third foot injury to Kevin Durant (26 games missed and counting) are conspiring to keep OKC (24-24) out of the playoffs, a virtual impossibility when camps opened in October. The Thunder is 10-16 without the league's reigning MVP. Durant is not expected to play tonight against surging New Orleans, which stands between the Thunder and eighth-place Phoenix.

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Rubrika: ZahraničieNBA

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