DALLAS -- Before Saturday's 96-81 win over New Orleans, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban blew off Thursday's blowout loss at San Antonio and even said he wasn't surprised that his 38-year-old point guard Jason Kidd tweaked his lower back playing in his sixth game in eight nights.
In fact, Cuban put a positive spin on it, saying that it'll at least give Kidd some forced time off and will allow some younger players more court time. Cuban wasn't even terribly concerned about the Mavs still having a larger number in the 'L' column than the 'W' column.
"That’s going to be the thing that people have got to realize and we do already, that you can’t take any one game or any two games in some cases as a reflection of anything," Cuban said. "It’s really going to come down to, do you make the playoffs and can you figure out a way to get in the playoffs rested?"
The latter part is what should most concern Cuban. The Mavs, even at 4-5 and holding down the eighth and final playoff spot at this early stage, are only three games out of first place in the Western Conference. Given decent health to its core group, this team will make the playoffs. But can it make it there rested? The league saw what a rested Kidd is capable of in the postseason. The year before, a burned-out Kidd flamed out quickly.
The nature of this compacted schedule, with four games in five nights being the norm, the Mavs having just completed six games in eight nights and nine games in 12 nights through seven cities being the worst of it at the end of February and beginning of March, rest is critical for the NBA's oldest team.
"The defining characteristic of the season is that depth is huge, depth is king," Carlisle said. "Energy trumps everything. We have to find it, we have to keep it on the floor and when it is not there we have to shuffle the deck."
An important part of that depth is third-year guard Rodrigue Beaubois, and the jury is clearly still out on whether he can contribute on a consistent basis. Kidd's injury highlights why the Mavs need him to step up as a point guard. Delonte West started and played well, bringing solid defense and 12 points and four assists.
But behind West there is no depth. And if the Mavs are going to be able to keep Kidd rested throughout the brutal scheduling, Beaubois is going to have to play a role. He logged 16:24 and scored 11 points on 4-of-10 shooting. Three buckets were 3-pointers, but he had the same number of assists as he did turnovers (two), and afterward Carlisle was not pleased with the 6-foot-2 guard's defense.
"He made some shots, but the rest of his game needs work," Carlisle said. "He’s playing point now and Jason’s not out there with them, so this is a different kind of challenge for him. His decision-making is going to get better, his recognition is going to get better, but he understands the challenges and it can’t be me having to scream at him to get in a stance every time on defense. He’s got to do it for us."
Dirk Nowitzki said he doesn't have a problem with Roddy's defense, but harped on his skills running the offense.
"He’s got to work on his decision-making, I think we all know that, coming off pick-and-rolls, making the right plays, seeing the floor that’s sometimes problems for him," Nowitzki said. "But I like when he plays hard, he makes stuff happen, and I like when he’s aggressive. Sometimes he has to find a better mix of driving and shooting and finding the open guy, but we need him."
And Beaubois understands that. He lost all confidence during his short stint last season once he finally returned from foot surgery and he didn't play a second during the championship run. A second foot surgery last season coupled with the lockout hampered his progress this season. But Beaubois knows he's needed, and he's working to make a positive impact.
"I still need to keep pushing myself, to keep working because I have to find my sensation back," Beaubois said. "All those layups, normally I make those. Now I take it like it is important for me to have minutes to get my rhythm back and help the team to win because right now I am still working to get my game back."
He might not be a consistent rotation player when Kidd is healthy, but to keep Kidd healthy and rested Carlisle has to be able to call on Beaubois with confidence.