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Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Jae Crowder has struggled as starter

By Tim MacMahon

DALLAS – Should the Mavs stick with Jae Crowder in the starting lineup until Dirk Nowitzki gets healthy?

The numbers say definitely not. Granted, the sample sizes are small, but the second-round rookie forward has been far more productive coming off the bench than as a starter.

In seven starts, Crowder has averaged 4.3 points while shooting 28.6 percent from the floor and 16.7 percent from 3-point range. The Mavs are 2-5 in those games, having been outscored by 53 points with Crowder on the floor.

In nine appearances as a reserve, Crowder is averaging 8.7 points while shooting 52.7 percent from the floor and 45.2 percent from 3-point range. The Mavs are 6-3 in those games, having outscored opponents by 51 points with Crowder on the floor.

“It’s something we’ve looked at and right now we’ve decided the last few games that he’s been good to have in there as a starter because he facilitates movement and his activity defensively helps get us going,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “But like you say, it’s small sample sizes. It’s something we’re constantly looking at.”

Crowder acknowledges that he’s more comfortable on the offensive end with the second unit than the starters, although he knows the coaches are counting on him to be a defensive difference-maker and energy guy as the fifth starter. He’s working to get in the flow with the starting five, a group he’s been a part of the last three games.

“I think it’s going to take time with that first unit for me to feel comfortable and know where my shots are coming from,” Crowder said. “It’s different shot selection in each group. I’ve been watching film and studying it. It’s a time situation, me knowing where my shots are coming from.”

Of course, the Mavs hope they won’t need Crowder in the starting lineup much longer, although they’re not ready to give another Dirk progress report at this point.