Nets-Mavericks Preview

Once a target to join the Dallas Mavericks, Deron Williams is back in the starting lineup for the Brooklyn Nets these days.

The Dallas-area native won’t be the point guard in the spotlight Saturday night since Rajon Rondo is returning for the Mavericks.

Rondo will be back from a one-game suspension following his clash with coach Rick Carlisle as the Mavericks look to end some recent home woes against Williams and the Nets.

Dallas (39-21) suspended Rondo for Wednesday’s 104-87 loss at Atlanta after he and Carlisle exchanged words the night before in the third quarter of a 99-92 home win over Toronto. Rondo was benched for the rest of that contest.

Rondo, averaging 8.3 assists to rank among the NBA’s leaders, will start Saturday. The four-time All-Star will be a free agent after this season.

”I’m going to do what’s best for the team and play my heart out for these next 22 games we have left and make a run in the playoffs,” Rondo said.

Carlisle didn’t want to discuss the matter further.

"I’m done talking about it, our other players are done talking about it," the coach said. "It’s over."

Rondo will match up with Williams, who is averaging 13.3 points on 37.9 percent shooting while starting the last four games – the first two because Jarrett Jack was injured for Brooklyn. Jack is back but Williams – who hails from nearby The Colony, Texas – has remained the starter.

Williams went 2-8 in games at Dallas during his time with Utah. He has gone 3-0 at the American Airlines Center since joining the Nets, averaging 19.3 points and 7.0 assists.

Brook Lopez missed last season’s 107-104 overtime win at Dallas. The 7-footer turned in 38-point efforts in each of the Nets’ previous two visits.

"They’re hard to play," Carlisle said. "Deron Williams is back. They got Lopez and Thaddeus Young and Jack coming off the bench. I mean those guys are starters in this league."

Dallas was without three other players Wednesday – center Tyson Chandler (hip contusion) and forward Chandler Parsons (left ankle) were out injured, and forward Amare Stoudemire was rested. Parsons remains out while Chandler and Stoudemire will likely be back.

The Mavs ended a three-game overall slide in this series with a 96-88 overtime win Jan. 5, in which Williams sat out for the Nets. Rondo made 1 of 13 shots for two points, though he had 14 assists and 10 boards.

"We had to scramble to beat ’em, we got lucky," Carlisle said. "Joe Johnson had a shot at the (regulation) buzzer that happened to miss that gave us some life. In the overtime, we were able to get over the hump."

Brooklyn (23-33) seeks to avoid a third straight loss to close out a five-game trip after Friday’s 102-98 defeat to Houston. The Nets led 86-78 with 7 minutes left.

Williams and Mason Plumlee each scored 15 points and Lopez added 12 and 12 rebounds.

”We felt like we kind of gave that one away,” Williams said. ”That was our game to have and we just made a couple of mistakes and we didn’t get a stop when we needed it.”

The Nets have the NBA’s fifth-worst record in the second half of back-to-backs at 3-10.