DALLAS – Coach Rick Carlisle didn’t exactly rush to Rodrigue Beaubois’ aid after a flagrant forearm to the face sent the oft-fragile young guard crashing to the court.
Carlisle just watched from in front of the Mavs’ bench, seemingly curious about how Beaubois would react after such a hard foul, which resulted in Suns guard Sebastian Telfair’s ejection. And Roddy B. responded just how Carlisle wanted, getting up after a few seconds and hitting both free throws.
The kid passed another toughness test.
“He's gotten so much tougher,” Carlisle said. “His first year, you would have needed a spatula to get him off the ground. Honestly, he fell in a heap every time he got touched. He took a lot of heat from his teammates, he took a lot of heat from the coaches, and he’s raised his level of toughness quantum over that period of time.”
Beaubois’ occasional bursts of scoring brilliance as a rookie made him an instant fan favorite. It’s fun to watch when the lil’ fella is lighting it up with a mix of high-flying finishes and long-range marksmanship.
But Carlisle doesn’t want to have fun. He wants to win.
That’s why the coach has stressed to Beaubois, whose sophomore season was ruined by a broken foot and fractured psyche, that he’ll be judged as a “competitor” and not an “entertainer.”
The primary factor in determining whether Roddy B. will rot on the bench or have a significant role is his defensive intensity. Carlisle is confident that if Beaubois shows that kind of commitment on a consistent basis, his offensive game will flow again.
"When the competitive side of him is there, he gets minutes, because that ignites the rest of his game and engages him with his teammates,'' Carlisle said before Monday's game. "And when there are periods where he floats, it ain't happening. It's not helping us and he's not getting better.
"We got to view this situation the right way. It's important that people understand we need Beaubois, the competitive player, not Beaubois the guy who does some flamboyant things because those flamboyant things aren't going to hold up and really help you consistently win. His competitive level on the whole has gotten better. Over the last two weeks, I like what he's doing.
"The way you can tell how much he's into it is where he is defensively. If he's just dropping back and waiting for the guy to come at him, he's not going to be as effective. But when he's up in a stance and engaged, then he's a good player. He's very important to us with our team constituted as it is.''
Beaubois earned praise from Carlisle after Monday night’s win despite not scoring a bucket. Carlisle liked the way Beaubois battled defensively and showed resolve when his shots weren’t falling.
Carlisle considers Beaubois one of the Mavs’ more intelligent players, pointing out that he always passes quizzes given to young players, usually getting every answer right. Beaubois is beginning to pass the toughness tests that come in the NBA much more often, accepting Carlisle’s demands to think defense first.
“That’s the challenge for me and I take it,” Beaubois said. “I’m tougher, but I can get tougher for sure. I keep working every day.”
And Carlisle will keep pushing him to compete, which is entertaining in its own right.