Dallas Mavericks: Dominique Jones
Jones, the guard entering his third season, stuffed the box score with 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting, five rebounds and nine assists.
The assists total is especially noteworthy for Jones, a 2010 first-round pick who played sparingly in his first two NBA seasons. The Mavs are trying to turn the 6-foot-5 Jones into a point guard, but he was much more effective as a scorer than a distributor in the first three games this summer, when he had 11 assists and 10 turnovers. Jones had three turnovers Friday night.
The Mavs’ two second-round picks also had solid performances as Dallas improved its summer record to 3-1 despite first-round guard Jared Cunningham being sidelined by a strained hamstring.
Small forward Jae Crowder had a game-high 18 points along with four rebounds, three steals and two blocks. Center Bernard James had nine points, eight rebounds, five blocks and three steals.
Click here for a box score.
DALLAS – Ready or not, here Dominique Jones comes.
With a rash of injuries and issues with reserve guards, the Dallas Mavericks have little choice but to give Jones significant minutes for really the first time in his NBA career. The former first-round pick in his second season out of South Florida responded relatively well in Wednesday’s win over the Nuggets, when Jones played a career-high 31 minutes with Jason Terry and Rodrigue Beaubois missing the game and Delonte West suffering a gruesome finger injury during the second quarter.
Terry, who sat out due to a sore quad, won’t play Friday because of personal reasons. Beaubois will be away from the team for an indefinite period of time after the sudden passing of his father. West will be sidelined for an extended period after fracturing and dislocating his right ring finger.
That leaves Jones, best known for the large tattoo of the Larry O'Brien Trophy on his neck, as the lone healthy, available reserve guard. He’ll get plenty of playing time with the Mavs determined not to run up the minutes for geezer guards Jason Kidd and Vince Carter.
“We’re going to need him,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “He’s worked hard and this gets his feet wet for Friday.”
While Jones missed all six of his shots from the floor against the Nuggets, the Mavs would be pleased if he keeps performing like he did in the lopsided win. He had six assists, four rebounds and only one turnover, consistently playing aggressively but under control.
The Mavs want to limit Kidd’s minutes to the mid-20s, so Jones is likely to get the majority of his playing time at point guard. He played primarily shooting guard in college, but Jones has run the point during his stints with the D-League Texas Legends and in the minimal practice time he's had with the Mavs this season.
“It’s probably in many ways a more natural position for him than 2, because he’s very good with the ball,” Carlisle said. “He sees things, has a good feel for passing and he causes problems with his penetration. This is an opportunity for him.”
Added Jones, who had logged only 195 NBA minutes in his career before Wednesday: “I think I have a lot to learn at both postions, 1 and 2, so I’m real humble when it comes to that, real open-minded when it comes to learning. But I’m pretty comfortable playing the 1.”
The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Jones understands that his primary job as a point guard is to keep the ball moving. He is a physical guard who is at his best attacking off the dribble, but he’s likely to struggle to score as long as opponents don’t have to respect his jumper.
“He’s a great driver, slasher,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “He can finish in the paint and once in a while, he’s going to make a shot. Defensively, he’s a workhorse. He’s a big guy, he can move, he can be active. He’s definitely going to get some opportunities here and he’s going to make the best out of them like he did tonight.”
Things had gone haywire for the visitors at the Target Center. The Timberwolves had gone on a 19-5 run to slash the Mavs’ lead to three points with a little more than 10 minutes remaining in the game.
Re-enter Kidd, who made his return Friday night after missing the previous six games with a strained right calf.
Kidd calmly hit a 3-pointer on his first possession after checking back into the game. He had four assists over the next three-plus minutes, finding Jason Terry for a midrange jumper, Dirk Nowitzki for a layup, Terry for a 3 and Nowitzki for a 3.
Suddenly, the Mavs’ lead had swollen back to 13. Ballgame.
“He got us home,” coach Rick Carlisle said of Kidd. “It’s great to have him back.”
Kidd had eight points, 10 assists, eight turnovers, five rebounds and two steals in his first game since Jan. 27. His most important stat: The Mavs were plus-23 in his 27 minutes during the 104-97 win.
A few more notes from the Mavs’ victory in Minnesota:
1. Dominance doesn’t satisfy Dirk: The big German’s groove continued with a season-high 33-point performance, an impressive display of offensive efficiency. Nowitzki, whose season scoring average has risen more than two points over the last four games, hit 11 of 19 shots from the floor and four of seven from 3-point range. “I’m still mad that I missed three free throws,” he said, noting his 7-of-10 night from the line.
2. JET makes buckets count: Terry has so much swagger he never believes he’s slumping. Not even after missing 18 of 22 shots on a road trip. Terry broke out of that funk with three buckets -- a midrange jumper, a floater and a 3-pointer -- in a span of 2:10 during the Mavs put-'em-away run. Terry finished the game with 16 points on 7-of-21 shooting. “His start was a bit of a struggle, but he hung in there,” Carlisle said.
3. Boys of summer ’10: It was quite an interesting night for the guards from the Mavs’ last summer league squad. Rodrigue Beaubois didn’t get off the Mavs’ bench, watching Kidd and Delonte West split the playing time at point guard in Kidd’s return. Dominique Jones was inactive for the Mavs. And Jeremy Lin scored 38 points and dished out seven assists to lead the Knicks to a win over the Lakers.
Tonight's game against the Phoenix Suns will be the fourth in a row Carter misses.
Dirk Nowitzki, who will sit out his second of four planned games vs. the Suns, was also going through a workout Monday morning. At the end of the shootaround, he was working at putting the ball on the floor as he would from the elbow or top of the key, an area he explicitly stated was limited by his sore right knee.
Lamar Odom is again expected to get the start at power forward. He's coming off a season-high 16 points Saturday night in the win at New Orleans. Odom clearly enjoys a comfort zone playing power forward, which he played exclusively over seven seasons with the Lakers, as opposed to small forward, which he has mainly played with the Mavs.
But Odom will have to be able to transfer whatever comfort he has at the4 with Dallas and take it back to the 3 when Nowitzki returns, which is expected to be for Sunday's game against the San Antonio Spurs.
"It's definitely an opportunity for more minutes at the 4," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "But, he's still going to be playing some 3 and we've got to maximize his size at 3 and his quickness and playmaking ability at 4. He made some good things happen offensively [against the Hornets]. Defensively, there's still some things we're working on. He's still got to get more aggressive, more active, but all in all he's making progress."
* Also, guard Dominique Jones was recalled from the the Mavs' D-League affiiliate, the Texas Legends, on Monday. He was assigned to the Legends last Sunday prior to the team's four-game road swing. Jones averaged 13.3 points in three games and made 19-of-23 from the free throw line.
LOS ANGELES -- Rick Carlisle has used 13 players more than once and he's gone as deep as 11 before halftime. But, in meaningful, high-intensity games, it is apparent that Carlisle will shorten his bench, too.
That's what he did in Monday's loss at the Los Angeles Lakers. Carlisle matched L.A. by limiting his bench to four players. Carlisle ultimately played his reserves longer, with Jason Terry logging a team-high 34:21 and Lamar Odom and Ian Mahinmi each playing about 24 minutes.
Mahinmi, it is clear, is the one young Dallas Mavericks player who has earned consistent playing time, and even more time in some games, than starter Brendan Haywood. A most intriguing aspect to Mahinmi is his ability to catch the basketball, make a fluid move and score. He's shown smooth moves down low and going off the glass as well as a soft jumper from the baseline and up top.
Mahinmi has made Carlisle's life a bit easier by shoring up the center position after Tyson Chandler's departure. The Mavs desperately tried to add big bodies just in case, but Mahinmi's progress has meant Sean Williams is playing in the D-League and Brandan Wright being relegated mostly to garbage time.
Against the Lakers, Mahinmi had nine points and 10 rebounds, while Haywood managed a free throw and seven boards.
The Mavs' other young players will just have to take their minutes when they can get them, against weaker opponents, in garbage time, in back-to-backs or at the end of long stretches like this season's popular four-games-in-five-nights sequence.
Dominique Jones was assigned to the Texas Legends on Sunday and even with Vince Carter's sprained foot taking him out of the lineup for at least one game and likely more, Jones won't be recalled just yet. And then there's Rodrigue Beaubois, the third-year guard who did not get off the bench in Monday's game, but could be looking at another window of opportunity in light of Carter's injury.
Jason Kidd's recent four-game hiatus with back spasms allowed Beaubois to get increased minutes and after some initial criticism by his coach, Beaubois turned in some steady performances the Mavs will need as Carlisle carefully navigates minutes through the compressed schedule.
"I don’t know the way he is going to use me, so I have to be ready," Beaubois said after Tuesday's practice. "I have to bring my energy on D."
The lithe, 6-foot-2 combo guard is averaging 5.3 minutes on just 37.3 percent shooting (and worse on 3s), but he did have a 15-point outburst last week and Carlisle credited him for playing a more disciplined brand of defense.
"He's in the picture always," Carlisle said of Beaubois' status in the rotation.
Only now, for a second time in as many weeks, he has a chance to bring more clarity to his role.
The Dallas Mavricks assigned Jones to the Texas Legends on Sunday, prior to departing on this four-game road trip. Carter sprained his left foot on the final play of Monday's loss at the Los Angeles Lakers as he got off a game-tying 3-point attempt. Carlisle ruled Carter out for Wednesday's game at the Los Angeles Clippers, and it would seem unlikely that Carter, who couldn't put weight on the foot after the game, would be available for Thursday night's game at the Utah Jazz.
Dallas wraps up the road trip Saturday at the New Orleans Hornets.
Even if Carter, the Mavs' second leading scorer off the bench and top 3-point shooter so far, is out for an extended period, the Mavs still might not need to call up Jones. Delonte West continues to start at shooting guard with Jason Terry coming off the bench and Rodrigue Beaubois next in line to absorb minutes.
"If this [Carter's injury] is going to be a short-term thing we may just ride it out," Carlisle said after the team's Tuesday practice at a local community college. "If not, we may bring him [Jones] back."
Jones has yet to play for the Legends, who play on Wednesday night against Tulsa, the start of a six-game homestand.
Jones has played in nine games, mostly in garbage time, and is averaging 1.8 points, 0.9 rebounds and 4.0 minutes while shooting 40 percent from the field. This is Jones’ second stint with the Legends. He played 10 games for the team last season and averaged 18.7 points, 5.2 rebounds and 5.0 assists in 37.5 minutes.
The Legends host the Tulsa 66ers on HP Court at Dr. Pepper Arena in Frisco on Wednesday. Jones joins Mavs forward-center Sean Williams, who has been with the Legends for a week and a half.
The second-year combo guard impressed in Sunday's game with 17 points and seven assists, coach Rick Carlisle gave Jones got the start as something of a reward. It would be a stretch to think that Carlisle is pondering using Jones as a starter in the regular season, but Carlisle has made it a habit throughout training camp to emphasize the need for contributions up and down the roster considering the compressed schedule.
"It's a great opportunity for young players this time of year," Carlisle told reporters prior to Tuesday's game. "We want to see consistency and see guys duplicate that kind of a performance. And it's tough because you're playing the same team 48 hours later."
Midway through the second quarter, Jones has four points, all from the free throw line, three assists and a couple of turnovers in 12 minutes.
Vince Carter has not seen action so far.
Jason Terry and Delonte West are out. Terry is not with the team after falling ill on Monday. West became ill Tuesday morning and did not participate in the morning shootaround.
At a rugged, 6-foot-4, but having lost a step defensively against the league's quicker point guards, Jason Kidd often guarded the opposing shooting guard while Dallas' smaller shooting guards, Jason Terry, J.J. Barea and even the brawnier DeShawn Stevenson, picked up the point guard. The strategy was employed to better match up against the point, but it also paid dividends on the wing as Kidd gave All-Stars Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade fits.
That option, however, could be in shorter supply this season now that Barea and Stevenson are gone, and 6-foot-6 Vince Carter would appear to have the inside track as the starting shooting guard.
"If it ends up being Kidd and Carter we’ll see," coach Rick Carlisle said. "There may be times Vince guards a point guard, I don’t know. Generally speaking, it’s going to be Jason most of the time in that scenario. We’ve got a different team now. That’s just the way it is. We’ll adjust and we’ll do what we have to do, but we’ve moved on and the guys we have now are the guys we’re going to have to win with."
The Thunder provide a good example of times the Mavs like the switch. In the Western Conference finals, Kidd typically guarded starting shooting guard Thabo Sefolosha and Stevenson played a major role defending Russell Westbrook and, at times, even Kevin Durant.
This season the Mavs can switch when Kidd plays alongside Jason Terry or at times Rodrigue Beaubois or Dominique Jones. Carlisle could decide to start Terry and bring Carter off the bench to play with feisty backup point guard Delonte West. But, if Carter is the starter, Kidd will match up at the point.
"We’re both big guards so we’re not going to be able to guard the guy that is extremely fast," Kidd said of he and Carter. "But, we’ve got to make him shoot jump shots. You can have Vince play the 1, 2, 3 and sometimes the 4 because of his athletic ability. Having a guard out there like Jet or Roddy or D.J., we’ll be able to switch a lot."
Kidd sat out the first preseason game on Sunday so tonight should provide the first glimpse at a potential starting lineup and the Mavs' plan of attack defensively.
A day after Jason Terry fell ill and was taken to the hospital to be checked out, backup point guard Delonte West missed this morning's shootaround with an illness. He'll be a game-time decision for tonight's second and final preseason game at the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Terry did not even make the trip. If West can't play that will likely mean increased time for Rodrigue Beaubois and Dominique Jones, which wouldn't be an awful thing.
Last week, Brian Cardinal and Brandan Wright were the victims with Wright feeling so badly that he couldn't play in Sunday's preseason game.
"J-Kidd told us that we're going to need our young players, me, Roddy, Ian [Mahinmi], they're going to need us," Jones said. "That vibe right there just let us know that we have to be ready and any game might be the game where we play 20 minutes or 30 minutes, or we might play no minutes or five minutes. So, you've just got to stay ready and keep your mind right and continue to get better as it goes on."
Kidd, who turns 39 in March, knows what's ahead: a grueling 66-game schedule over 123 days with 20 back-to-backs and one back-to-back-to-back. Depth is going to be crucial to success like never before.
Jones and Rodrigue Beaubois are behind two veterans at both guard positions. But, one injury or a needed night off will push them into important minutes. In Sunday night's 106-92 preseason loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, both showed vast improvement from last season, when Jones played some in the D-League and Beaubois battled his troublesome left foot.
On a night when Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki didn't play, both youngsters scored 17 points Sunday with Jones adding seven assists and Beaubois hitting three 3-pointers. They often played together with each attacking the rim and forming quite a nifty pairing while sparking a rally that chopped OKC's 90-67 lead to five midway through the fourth quarter.
"Roddy likes to shoot it and I like to pass it," Jones said, "so it works out good."
Beaubois continues t0 make progress after a second offseason rehabbing his left foot that he initially fractured two summers ago and then re-injured on the final game of last season. His role ever since has been in question.
"Every day I feel better, but I have to keep pushing myself," Beaubois said. "This was my first game since a long time ago. On the foot, I'm healthy, but I need to get the foot and the leg stronger."
As for Carter, a human highlight reel for the duration of his career, he said he is learning how to play the game effectively from a somewhat lower vantage point.
"Just smarter," Carter said of the evolution of his game. "I’ve taken pride in trying to learn the game of basketball throughout the years. I’ve come from a great program [North Carolina] where I was taught the game anyway, so for me it’s just continue to find ways to be effective. I’m not really into trying to jump over people anymore."
Dallas boasted a terrific backcourt last season with players of varying skills and expertise. Gone is the mad-dog defender DeShawn Stevenson, who developed quite a lethal 3-pointer, as well. Gone is J.J. Barea, who frustrated defenses with his quick attacks to the basket and became as equally proficient passing it out or dumping it off as he did finishing off drives himself.
Carter, a superior offensive threat, effectively replaces Stevenson, with Delonte West taking over Barea's job as Kidd's backup.
Let's break down the two guard positions:
Point guard: If Stevenson was thought to be a bit on the extreme side, how best to describe West? Well, the Mavs hope the slender 6-foot-3 veteran can handle the basketball, hit a few shots and defend. His priority is to allow Kidd the rest he'll need during a 66-game schedule that will be played in a whirlwind 123 days. In his seven seasons, West, who recently described himself as a "poor man's Jason Kidd," hasn't exactly been a durable workhorse over his career, having only once played as many as 71 games in a season and six times having played 69 games or fewer. The goal is to keep Kidd's minutes around 30 or fewer per game, and there might be times throughout 20 back-to-backs and one back-to-back-to-back that Kidd might get a night off.
"With Delonte, he’s a veteran guy that can knock down a shot, he can defend anybody. He knows how to play, he’s been in the game a while now," Kidd said. "So we all trust him and understand he plays well with the ball or without the ball."
If West isn't in the lineup on the majority of nights, it will put tremendous pressure on Rodrigue Beaubois to make massive strides at point guard. Beaubois remains a far more confident player at shooting guard and it could be too much to ask him to take on large chunks of time at the point. Second-year combo guard Dominique Jones could also see time at point.
Shooting guard: "Vinsanity" takes over at 2-guard -- at least he would seem the obvious candidate with Jason Terry entrenched as the sixth man. The Mavs have long searched for a big, capable scorer at the 2. Last season with Stevenson, they certainly got bigger and more tenacious on the defensive end, but Stevenson certainly wasn't an explosive, create-his-own-shot type of player. With Carter, the Mavs might have the size and offense they've always craved, but they might run into defensive matchup issues. Dallas likes to use Kidd on shooting guards because, at 38, he just can't keep up with many of the young point guards in the league, while the 2-guard takes the opposing point. Carter, at his size and with knee issues, is not a candidate to slide over on the point guard. Terry, obviously, allows that flip and so, too, would either Beaubois or Jones. Carter's presence should allow Terry to dip his minutes some, but crunch time will be the most interesting time to see how coach Rick Carlisle plays things.
Terry loves late-game pressure and has all kinds of skins on the wall, and he won't want to lose that responsibility to Carter or anyone else.
It will be a whirlwind for sure, and Kidd, who will turn 39 during a particularly brutal stretch in March, will be most affected by the sprint to the April 26 regular-season finish line, which is followed by the postseason two days later. Anyone who saw Kidd play during the final month of last season saw a tired, dragging player. We know Kidd must be fresh entering the playoffs for the Mavs to stand a chance.
We also know that keeping Kidd as spry as possible begins right now during training camp.
"We're not going to kill him in training camp," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "We're going to make sure we have him for 66 games."
Dallas has good depth at shooting guard and both forward spots, and they wouldn't mind adding another serviceable center. As of Monday night, the Mavs addressed a gaping hole behind Kidd by signing Delonte West, 28, to a one-year deal. Otherwise, Dallas was looking at likely forcing Jason Terry to split time between the guard spots because Rodrigue Beaubois and Dominique Jones just haven't developed yet as reliable point guards for a team gunning for a repeat.
And to repeat, Kidd must be well-rested by the time April 28 rolls around. That's the day the playoffs start.
Kidd averaged about 36 minutes per game two seasons ago and was a mess in the first-round loss to the San Antonio Spurs. Carlisle recognized that and was able to reduce Kidd's minutes to about 33 per game last season. The plan this season is to get him down to 30 or fewer.
With J.J. Barea now playing in Minnesota, ensuring that the future Hall of Famer gets the rest he needs is in the hands of Delonte West.
Before the Mavs scooped up Lamar Odom Saturday night from the smoldering ashes of the collapsed Lakers-Hornets-Rockets deal involving Chris Paul, Dallas was looking to use the trade exception acquired from the New York Knicks to get Sacramento Kings free agent center Samuel Dalembert.
The Mavs have assets that can potentially be moved. The wing positions are loaded: Vince Carter, Rudy Fernandez, Jason Terry, Rodrigue Beaubois, Dominique Jones, Shawn Marion, Odom and Corey Brewer.
That's more than half the roster.
Ten players worked out with newly signed forward Brandan Wright the only newcomer to this point. Shooting guard Rudy Fernandez is still stuck in Spain waiting out visa issues. Jason Kidd looked to be in fit condition after a long offseason of playing some of this country's top golf courses and Rodrigue Beaubois took part in the full practice as he looks to make his way all the back this time from a second surgery on his troublesome left foot.
But, the bigger story Friday was who wasn't at camp. Tyson Chandler is gone, a free-agent signee with the New York Knicks. Caron Butler is with Los Angeles Clippers. J.J. Barea, DeShawn Stevenson, Brian Cardinal and Peja Stojakovic were all no-shows as they explore their free-agent options. At least Barea and Stevenson are not expected to re-sign.
It made for an interesting feel at the undermanned practice as the team leaves behind some big contributors and bigger personalities, and moves forward in this accelerated training camp period with the season opening in two weeks.
"We've got to worry about what’s in this locker room right now and wish them guys the best of luck wherever free agency is leading them," forward Shawn Marion said. "But, we’ve got to get ready for Dallas Mavericks basketball."
Coach Rick Carlisle said the roster is not complete. Currently 11 players are under contract. The Mavs will need to fill two more spots to reach the league minimum of 13 on the 15-man roster. A veteran point guard could be at the top of the list.
Carlisle, who kept the tone of the day forward-thinking, announced several obvious adjustments, starting with Brendan Haywood taking over as the starting center with Ian Mahinmi sliding in as a true No. 2 for the first time in his brief NBA career. Beaubois and Dominique Jones will both get plenty of work at point guard with the loss of Barea. The backup position will be critical this season to allow Kidd the rest he will be need to navigate through a 66-game schedule in 123 days, and with the playoffs starting on the 125th day.
"I’m big on what’s going on today and right now and getting our guys geared up to make our situation right now the best that it can be and we’re going to do that," said Carlisle, who enters his fourth season as Dallas' head coach. "We had some guys that did some great things for us here that are probably not going to be back, but that’s part of the circle of life in the NBA. And, we’re all going to adjust, guys are going to step up into some opportunistic situations and we plan on defending our crown with a lot of pride."
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