DALLAS -- Whether there's just something about playing the Utah Jazz that appeals to Rodrigue Beaubois or the third-year guard is truly beginning to put his run of disappointment behind him will likely be getting more time to play out in the coming week.
With Jason Kidd leaving Friday's 116-101 victory over the Jazz barely two minutes into it with a right calf strain, Beaubois seized the keys to the team and for the second time in eight days he dominated the team from Salt Lake. Beaubois played a team-high, and by far a personal season-high, 36 minutes -- and for good reason.
He absolutely frustrated former Mavs point guard Devin Harris into submission with his quickness off the dribble and his agility to get to the rim. Beaubois posted season highs with 22 points and seven assists. He hit 9-of-15 shots on an array of penetrations and jumpers, including draining 3-of-5 shots from beyond the arc.
He grabbed six rebounds and had just two turnovers. At the other end, he also made Harris' return to Dallas an unpleasant one. Beaubois' long arms swatted away Harris' baseline attempt for one of Beaubois' career-high four blocks on the night and he also added a steal.
"I thought he played the point position as well as he's ever played it, in terms of running the team, making reads," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "His defense was terrific and yet he didn't foul. He didn't have any bad fouls. He really had a good feel for where to put everybody on the court. He made plays. He made important plays time and time again."
Carlisle has often been Beaubois' harshest critic, but he's also continually pumped him up, knowing that the oldest team in the league needs the spry, 23-year-old on the floor during this brutal regular season. And Beaubois' play has steadily improved over limited minutes.
A week ago, Carlisle went on Galloway & Company on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and harped that he needs Beaubois the competitor and not the flash-in-a-pan entertainer. On Friday he was both.
Beaubois, averaging 6.2 points while on the fringe of the rotation, had something of a breakout game eight nights ago at Salt Lake City, scoring 17 points and making plays throughout the decisive fourth quarter. His stats haven't been eye-popping in the games since, but Carlisle kept pointing to areas of improvement. He put up 11 points with five assists, three boards and three blocks Wednesday against Minnesota, but was overshadowed by the severity of the 15-point defeat.
The silky, 6-foot-2 combo guard has long felt far more comfortable playing shooting guard even though the franchise remains determined to groom him to run the point. The work appears to be paying off.
"I know that I can do it," Beaubois said of playing the point. "My teammates and coaches trust me, so I just have to keep working and getting [better] every day."
His decision-making appears vastly improved. He forced little and made good, smart passes within the halfcourt offense and seemed to have a sense for where his teammates would be. In the third quarter he fed a one-handed bounce pass into the lane that perfectly hopped into a cutting Shawn Marion 's hands for one of his patented floaters and a 69-61 lead.
Later in the quarter after the Jazz made their one major run to trim a nine-point deficit to 82-80 with 1:18 to go, Jason Terry quickly answered with one of his three 3-pointers. Paul Millsap missed a 3 and then Beaubois made the play of the game, beating Earl Watson off the dribble, snaking through the lane and maintaining his balance in mid-air to score as Watson bumped him with his body for the three-point play and an 88-80 lead.
"I’m especially proud of Roddy Beaubois," said Mavs center Brendan Haywood, who notched his first double-double of the season with 12 points and 12 rebounds. "With Jason Kidd going out early, it could have got ugly for us. He stepped up and basically led us to this victory."
And now the team will wait for word on Kidd's strained right calf. When Kidd missed four games earlier this month with back spasms, Carlisle chose to start Delonte West at the point with Vince Carter at shooting guard. West, the regular starting shooting guard, missed Friday's game with a tight hamstring, but expects to play Sunday against the San Antonio Spurs.
That could leave Carlisle with the interesting choice of starting Beaubois at the point.
"Hopefully, he's not that bad," Beaubois said of Kidd's injury. "But, if that is the case, me and everybody else have to be ready. If he's out we know how important he is, so we have to be ready to step up and do our best to win games."