DALLAS -– Jae Crowder is finding out the hard way the trials and tribulations of an NBA rookie.
One minute Crowder was blazing such a fast trail during preseason that there’s was talk of him being in the conversation for NBA Rookie of the Year. That’s how polished Crowder looked during preseason.
But the regular season started and Crowder started, well, playing like a wet-behind-the-ears rookie. And his minutes reflected it.
During a Nov. 14 game against Washington, Crowder played 21 minutes and scored 12 points. Three games later against the Golden State Warriors, he didn’t ever get off coach Rick Carlisle’s bench.
Was it punishment for something Crowder did or didn’t do?
“He just didn’t get in,’’ Carlisle said after Saturday’s shoot around at American Airlines Center. “It wasn’t anything premeditated or anything like that.
“It was just how that particular game happened to go.’’
And it’s just how particular games happen to go for rookies. They, for the most part, are expendable, since most coaches don’t trust most of them when it comes time to trying to win games.
“I can’t sit here and say it’s not tough, but at the same time I kind of expected it being a rookie and I tried to prepare myself as much as possible,’’ Crowder said. “But it’s hard to prepare for it because you’ve never been through it.
“I’m going through it. I’ve got a lot of good vets around me and they keep me up and keep me looking forward to the next game.’’
For the Mavs, the next game is at 7:30 tonight at American Airlines Center against the Los Angeles Lakers (6-7).
For Crowder, he said Carlisle never told him if the reason he didn’t play against Golden State was because he did something particularly wrong. However, Crowder responded the very next game with 12 points and four rebound sin 21 minutes this past Wednesday against the New York Knicks.
Now, the rookie from Marquette hopes to build off the game against the Knicks when the Mavs entertain the Lakers.
“You’ve got to let it go,’’ Crowder said. “I watched film on it and see what I can do better and try to correct things I did wrong and try to build off it.
“That’s what I’m trying to do. I’m just trying to be consistent with my play.’’
Carlisle has no qualms with Crowder’s game preparations.
“He’s always going to be ready -- I think we all realize that at this point,’’ Carlisle said. “And because our lineup situation is so fluid due to game-to-game matchups, how guys are playing, particular needs that we may have with our lineups, everybody just has too be ready.
“What he did the other night in being ready and go in there and do a good job is key for us.’’
Almost a month into his rookie season, Crowder would like some more minutes coming his way. But he realizes the reality of the situation.
“I feel like I’m a very lucky rookie right now,’’ he said. “First, to get playing time and stuff like that.
“And just playing with these other guys and being in a great rhythm. So this opportunity is a great one for me.’’
It’s an opportunity that will test Crowder’s mental preparation to games.
“You never know what’s going to happen,’’ he said. “You never know if he’s going to start you that night, you never know if he’s not going to play you.
“So you have to be mentally tough and mentally prepared and know the game plan, for sure.’’
-- Dwain Price
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