DALLAS -- The dreadlocked head of Jae Crowder didn't swell just because he lit it up for 20 points in 15 minutes during his first game at the American Airlines Center.
Crowder, whose duties have included buying $250 worth of chicken for the veterans to eat on the Mavs' overseas flight, is well aware of his rookie status.
Just in case, though, coach Rick Carlisle offered a not-so-subtle reminder at the next morning's practice. Carlisle called out Crowder the second he missed an open shot.
His scoring spree in garbage time against the Rockets was great, but Crowder gets that he still has a long way to go to accomplish his goal of earning a spot in the Mavs' rotation this season.
"You know how Carlisle is about the rookies," Crowder said Tuesday with a smile. "I’m still in the doghouse with that. When I came out today to practice, I felt like I was in the doghouse, but it’s cool. I just put my hard hat on and just go to work. Hopefully, if I do it night in and night out, I’ll get the minutes I deserve."
When it was suggested that Crowder could remind Carlisle of the coach's career shooting percentage, the second-round pick immediately showed some smarts.
"I’ll be in the doghouse the whole year then," Crowder said. "I’m trying to get out of it."
The truth is Carlisle is one of Crowder's biggest fans. And it's not because of Crowder's shooting ability, although Carlisle is pleased to see the progress the rookie has made, particularly from 3-point range (4-of-7 from long range against the Rockets).
Carlisle paid the 6-foot-6, 235-pound Crowder a huge compliment by calling him "one of the hardest-playing guys in the draft." Crowder has lived up to that billing during training camp.
In fact, it wasn't Crowder's 8-of-15 shooting against Houston that most impressed his coach. It was the charge he drew against 260-pound Rockets rookie Royce White.
"He was the Big East player of the year, so he’s a good offensive player," Carlisle said. "But the reason people love him so much as a prospect is because of his attitude, his disposition, his toughness."
It'll take a lot of toughness to get out of Carlisle's rookie doghouse. Crowder is ready for the challenge.