MINNEAPOLIS --With Vince Carter unavailable for tonight's game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Dallas Mavericks will have to make some changes with their rotation players.
In essence, Jae Crowder and Wayne Ellington will likely get more playing time. And there may even be a Ricky Ledo sighting.
"We've got to have other guys step up and we're going to have to be real tied together as a team,'' coach Rick Carlisle said following this morning's shoot around at the Target Center. "(The loss of Carter is) significant, but it is what it is.''
Carter was suspended Friday without pay by the NBA for elbowing Oklahoma City rookie center Steven Adams in the head. The incident occurred with 4:01 remaining in the third period.
Carter was assessed a Flagrant Foul 2 and ejected from the game. And now the one-game suspension without pay will cost him $35,333.
But Carter's suspension will also provide opportunities for other players.
"Jae's played really well and we're going to need him to be ready, we're going to need Ellington to be ready, we're going to need Ledo to be ready, and we just have to use our depth to make up for the loss,'' Carlisle said. "Hey, that's where we're at.
"There's not a lot of analyzing here. We just got to be ready to play.''
Crowder, who has made some impressive improvements since his rookie campaign last season, said Carter has taught him how to play with poise and with being in the moment. For Crowder, that moment comes tonight against a very gritty Timberwolves squad.
"I don't feel like it's a lot of pressure on me,'' Crowder said of tonight's task. "I feel like as a team, though, we all have to pick it up together.
"It's not just one player. That's how, as a team, we're approaching it.''
Crowder is averaging just 17.2 minutes per game this season. But tonight he'll undoubtedly receive a good chunk of the 22 minutes per game Carter is averaging.
"Of course it's a bigger assignment for me,'' Crowder said. "The guys have a lot of faith in me, so I'm looking forward to getting out here and oing my job.''
It's a job Carter believes his teammates will be able to handle without many problems.
"They know what to do,'' Carter said. "I think Jae has been playing phenomenal basketball, Wayne's improving,'' Carter said. "This is a chance for Ledo -- I'm sure he'll get a few minutes tonight, I'm assuming.''
Carlisle, meanwhile, doesn't have time to lament the loss of Carter for tonight's game. He subscribes to the next man up theory and hopes his players are for the difficult challenge the Timberwolves with present.
"We've got to get ready to play without him,'' Carlisle said of Carter. "And he'll be ready for tomorrow (night's game in Milwaukee).''
-- Dwain Price
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