As hungry journalists stared anxiously at the story unfolding on the court of the Sleep Train Arena, fans donning purple and black yelled in sing-song tones that seemed to mimic the cowbells they rang smugly, their yells and pensive looks directed at the visiting team currently battling their beloved Sacramento Kings. In the midst of all the chaos, Rajon Rondo, the MENSA worthy Sacramento point guard, had his attention focused elsewhere during the third quarter of an extremely important game – his former coach, Dallas Mavericks’ head coach Rick Carlisle.
— Earl K. Sneed (@EarlKSneed) December 1, 2015
This was supposed to be Rondo’s revenge game, AKA the return of Rondogate to Dallas. Though revenge on WHAT isn’t quite too clear to those who witnessed the Rajon to Dallas debacle first hand. What did Rondo have to act revenge upon? Did he want revenge on the team he simply abandoned in 2014-15 playoffs after he tossed in the towel? Revenge on those very teammates he iced out in the locker room? Revenge on that coach he publically fought with and turned his back on in front of a nation?
Hold on while I suppress my feelings…
Sigh. Okay, and we’re back.
Let’s paint a new picture, one of a more evenly-matched standpoint – a brighter and more hopeful one with the apparent set up of a newfound hero, his face now turned toward the warmth of a new beginning. During the NBA offseason, Rondo signed a one-year contract with the Kings and is reminding folks of his salad days by scoring consecutive triple-doubles almost every night he takes the floor.
And on Monday night, as Rondo turned his sleepy gaze toward his short-lived former teammates, he had both everything, and nothing, to prove all at once. This would be Rondo’s “Schrodinger’s Cat” game, to say the least – a paradox that only makes sense to the executor himself. In Dallas, Rondo was the iceman. But in Sacramento, Rajon Rondo is pure lightning. In Sacramento’s 112-98 victory over the Mavericks, Rondo put up 21 points and six assists despite Dallas’ cocktail binge of “hack-a-Rondo” that was executed throughout the game itself.
He fell in line behind DeMarcus Cousins, who had returned from a three game absence and put up 31 points, nine rebounds, and six assists. The Mavericks had a difficult time attempting to contain Rudy Gay, who added on 20 of his own points and seven rebounds, which became one of the many issues that rose up in the third quarter. After the Mavs led by as much as 14 points in the first half, they scored only 13 points off of 5-of-22 shooting in the third, which basically gift-wrapped the game to the struggling Kings.
Chandler Parsons led the visitors with 14 points, but is still on a minutes restriction and wasn’t able to be there for his team in the fourth quarter after playing a season-high 26 minutes with just under 11 minutes left to go in the game. “We kinda slowed down there and they started getting shots,” Parsons said following the game. “They hit some tough shots and they just continued to do that and we didn’t execute down the stretch.”
The loss was somewhat staggering for the Mavs, and a much needed breath of fresh air for the Kings, but despite that, there was one name that was firmly planted on everyone’s lips (THANKS A LOT, MEDIA DAMN… oh, hi there): R.O.N.D.O.
“He’s playing well,” Parsons commented when asked about his former teammate. “He’s always been capable, he’s always been very smart – you know, crafty – an unbelievable passer. He’s in a good rhythm right now.”
“I’m happy for him,” Dirk Nowitzki said after the game, a sentiment he expressed in the days BEFORE the game (but apparently something a lingering reporter failed to catch in the many times it was asked the veteran).
Rondo mania aside, the Mavericks need to move on from the fact that this is their fourth straight road loss and have scored less than 100 points thanks to turnovers and lingering issues on the offense.
“The games are all hard this year,” Carlisle expressed. “There are teams with bad records, but they’re all teams that are gonna compete – they’re all gonna make it hard.”
And hard the Kings made it. And hard Rajon Rondo clearly made it. He may not have been reading his former coach’s mind as some said, but he knew how design the perfect revenge/not revenge game on his newfound home turf. Foul line or no foul line, Rondo won in the end due to one simple fact:
His name is back on the tips of everyone’s lips.
And for the first time in a while, the words emerging from wagging tongues are completely and utterly positive.
(10-8, 5-6 away)
(7-12, 5-6 home)
10:00 PM ET, November 30, 2015
Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento, CA
Dal: Z. Pachulia 13 Pts, 10 Reb, 1 Ast
Sac: D. Cousins 31 Pts, 9 Reb, 6 Ast, 1 Blk