Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle and point guard Rajon Rondo got into a verbal exchange during Dallas' 99-92 home victory over Toronto on Tuesday. Rondo did not re-enter the game following the exchange, which took place early in the third quarter.
This was a pretty heated scene. With a little more than eight minutes remaining in the third quarter and Toronto leading 62-53, Carlisle walked out near mid-court to call timeout. As the Mavericks headed back to the bench, Carlisle and Rondo engaged in a direct exchange of words as teammates and fellow coaches looked on.
The cause of their dispute was unclear. On Toronto's previous possession, Amir Johnson emerged with an offensive rebound and a second-chance basket as Rondo and his teammates were unable to secure the defensive rebound. As Rondo brought the ball up the court slowly, Carlisle appeared to be signaling for a timeout without getting any response from his floor general.
“It’s an emotional game and we had a difference of opinion," Carlisle told reporters afterwards. "There was an exchange, and then, in my mind, it was over. ... Once it was over, it was over.”
After the timeout, Carlisle inserted Devin Harris for Rondo, who remained sidelined for the duration of the game. He finished with four points (on 2-for-6 shooting), four assists and two rebounds in 18 minutes.
“It’s just a coach’s decision," Carlisle said of Rondo's departure. "We’ve talked about these before. I thought it worked out well. The other guys stepped up and we were able to win the game.”
MavsOutsider.com reported that Rondo didn't discuss the exchange in detail, stating only: "We won. Discuss it with Rick."
Dallas acquired Rondo from Boston in a December trade and immediately faced questions about his fit on the team. Entering Tuesday, the Mavericks were 15-9 with Rondo in the lineup.
Monta Ellis led the Mavericks with 18 points, three assists and three steals. Dirk Nowitzki added 18 points and nine rebounds.
DeMar DeRozan paced the Raptors with 18 points, four assists and three rebounds. Greivis Vasquez added 14 points and two assists.
Dallas improved to 39-20. Toronto fell to 37-20.