Mavs crossing fingers on injuries to Chandler, Ellis, Rondo
DALLAS (AP) Here's what Dallas coach Rick Carlisle knows right now: Tyson Chandler is out for the last game before the All-Star break, Monta Ellis probably won't play either and Rajon Rondo is getting better.
As for how the sudden rash of injuries affects the Mavericks in the tightly packed and highly competitive Western Conference, well, that question will have to wait for another day.
''I'm not saying anything that's rocket science,'' Carlisle said Tuesday, a day after Chandler and Ellis went to the locker room barely 2 minutes apart early in a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. ''We've got to get our best players back on the court, but we have to do it in an expeditious but prudent fashion.''
Chandler was ruled out against Utah on Wednesday night with a sprained left ankle, and Ellis is doubtful with a left hip injury that required an MRI. The team was awaiting results.
The team's best defender and top scorer are now sidelined with Rondo, who will miss his sixth game in the visit from the Jazz after breaking an orbital bone and his nose in a game at Orlando on Jan. 31.
The Mavericks brought Chandler back in offseason trade with New York three years after he helped them win their only title, a move designed to improve their interior defense. Rondo came in another deal in December, with an eye mostly on helping Dallas defend the bevy of elite point guards in the West.
Throw in that Ellis, at 20 points per game, is on his way to being the first leading scorer in Dallas not named Dirk Nowitzki since 2000, and the Mavericks are in a bit of a pickle if any of the injuries linger past Feb. 19, when they return from the break at Oklahoma City.
Dallas entered Tuesday in fifth place in the West, part of a mix of five teams separated by just 2 1/2 games from third to seventh.
''Your down three starters, that's obviously not perfect,'' Nowitzki said. ''We've got to try to rotate for each other and play hard. I don't know what else to tell you.''
Carlisle sounded optimistic that all three players could return after the break, saying Chandler's ankle sprain wasn't considered serious and Rondo was improving. The Mavericks still haven't settled the question of whether Rondo needs surgery, but are hoping to avoid it.
Ellis has played in 228 consecutive regular-season games, including 136 since signing with Dallas as a free agent before last season. He's played through several injuries to keep the streak alive, but the advantage of an extra week along with missing the game might be too much for the Mavericks to pass up.
If Ellis sits, Chandler Parsons becomes the primary scoring option alongside the 36-year-old Nowitzki. It's just what Parsons had in mind when he signed an expensive three-year offer sheet in Dallas. And Parsons' rebounding numbers shot up suddenly without Chandler. He had a season-high 12 in the 115-98 loss to the Clippers.
''I probably will have the ball in my hands a lot more if Monta is not playing,'' said Parsons, whose averages in points, rebounds and assists are all down from the last of his three seasons in Houston. ''But just continue to make my teammates better and not force or press anything, but definitely be aggressive and give us a different look there.''
The Mavericks are trying to get center Bernard James back on a 10-day contract after releasing him before the season started. The 6-10 former Air Force staff sergeant spent two years with Dallas as a backup.
''Anybody over 6-5 right now is a sight for sore eyes,'' Carlisle said. ''If we get it done with Sarge, yeah, he can step in and he can give us some minutes.''
The suddenly depleted Mavericks aren't asking for much.