HOUSTON – When J. J. Barea entered Tuesday’s game with 6:54 remaining in the first quarter to replace Rajon Rondo, the most surprised player in the Toyota Center was – Rajon Rondo.
From there, Rondo was never the same.
Rondo picked up two fouls late in the second quarter in a seven-second span. Then he went to the bench for the rest of the game with 11:26 remaining in the third quarter after he picked up his third and fourth fouls, and a technical foul.
It was as if being replaced so early in the game affected Rondo to the point where he couldn’t get his head back in the game.
Carlisle said it was his decision to finish the remainder of the game -- which the Mavs lost 111-99 -- with J. J. Barea and Raymond Felton at point guard rather than bring back Rondo and see what he had left in the tank.
"Well, (Rondo) got his fourth foul, so I took him out,’’ Carlisle said. "I like the way he other guys were playing, so I elected not to out him back in.’’
Rondo wound yup playing just 10 minutes and scoring four points on 2-of-4 shots. However, he was the big game player the Mavs acquired in a blockbuster trade with the Boston Celtics on Dec. 18, and he wound up on the bench at a time when the Mavs needed a big performance.
"All I know right now is that we need everybody at their competitive best,’’ Carlisle said. "This isn’t about one guy who did or didn’t play. This is about everybody pulling in the same direction for the organization.’’
Barea played 34 minutes and finished with 13 points, six rebounds and two assists, and Felton added nine points and three assists in 18 minutes.
"I don’t make (coaching) decisions out there,’’ said forward Dirk Nowitzki, when asked if he was surprised Rondo didn’t play but 24 seconds of the second half. "I just try to play hard and I try to help our team win and the rest is on coach.
"I thought Ray had some good stretches throughout the game and gave us a lift off the bench. I thought J. J. gave us a lift in the first half. So I guess that’s what coach rolled with.’’