In fact, Carlisle benched Rondo for the final 23-plus minutes of Game 2, opting to play Raymond Felton and J.J. Barea instead of his starting point guard, who was acquired from Boston in a midseason trade.
Rondo's benching came just seconds into the second half and followed a quick pair of fouls on James Harden. After jostling with Harden in the first half, Rondo was called for his third foul of the game just 11 seconds into the third quarter when he ran into Harden. The two exchanged words, with Rondo shoving Harden with both arms after the play and drawing a technical foul.
On Houston's next possession, Rondo drew his fourth foul of the game by hacking Harden while he was shooting a three-pointer. Carlisle immediately pulled Rondo from the game, using a backcourt rotation of Monta Ellis, Barea and Felton the rest of the way. Rondo even remained on the bench during garbage time, when Carlisle turned to deep reserves Dwight Powell and Bernard James to close out the game. As the fourth quarter progressed, Rondo moved from the Mavericks' bench to the baseline, where he sat on the court.
Rondo posted four points and one assist in just 10 minutes. Game 2 marked the fewest number of minutes that Rondo has played in a game since arriving in Dallas last December, aside from a Jan. 31 game against Orlando in which he suffered an injury.
[daily_cut.NBA]“You can ask [Rondo] that," Carlisle told reporters, when asked whether Rondo wanted to play. "All I know is right now we need everyone at their competitive best."
Rondo departed the locker room without speaking to the media.
"I don't make decisions out there," Dirk Nowitzki said, when asked about Rondo's benching. "I play hard. I try to help our team win. The rest is on our coach."
In February, Rondo was benched after getting into a verbal exchange with Carlisle. The Mavericks suspended him one game for the incident.
Rondo, 29, will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. He averaged 8.9 points and 7.9 assists this season.
Houston took a 2-0 series lead over Dallas with Game 3 set for the American Airlines Center on Friday.