It never hurts to try something once. That's what people tell me, anyway. That's what Chandler Parsons said after Thursday's failed test that ended with the Charlotte Hornets running the Mavericks off their own court in the second half.
See, Parsons is on a severe minutes restriction with no immediate resolution in sight. With only about 15 minutes played per game, the Mavericks have suited him up for just the first half in his first two appearances this season. On Thursday, per his suggestion, they tried playing him just in the second half, giving him a chance to play closer down the stretch with his fellow starting five.
Which is a great idea if there's anything to close. On Thursday, there certainly wasn't.
"It's almost like the basketball gods said, 'here you go for that dumbass idea,'" Parsons said afterwards. "It was worth a shot."
Parsons, who underwent a hybrid microfracture surgery last May, will likely be inhibited with a minutes restriction for at least another month. In hindsight, the decision to play him in the second half looks real dumb. In reality, though, there's no good answer to this problem. Parsons is a player the Mavericks desperately need and his absence, regardless of which half it comes in, makes Dallas' job even harder than it already is.
"Obviously, it's easy now to say that was a stupid idea or whatever else you guys are going to say," Parsons told me with a wry smile. "It was just a thought and we gave it a shot. That's one thing I respect about coach Carlisle: he's very open to ideas like that and clearly it didn't work. I don't think it was everything to do with me checking in (in the second half)."
And with that, Parsons hit the nail on the head. Certainly he wasn't crisp, scoring just two points on 1-of-5 shooting, and yes, the Mavericks' collapse came in the third quarter, with Parsons netted a pretty ugly minus-16 in just 14 minutes. But despite a one-point halftime deficit, even before the 24-14 third quarter that swung the game, Dallas had problems. Al Jefferson was devouring them inside and Charlotte had already jumped out to a 10-point lead. Although the Mavericks cut back into it, the surge felt more like delaying of the inevitable than an actual, sincere push to make this is a game. Certainly, that ended up being the case.
"You can't blame the loss on (Parsons playing the second half)," Carlisle said in his postgame press conference. "That's just not how this works."
Instead, Carlisle talked about his team needing to be more physical. Certainly, it's safe to say the Parsons-as-a-second-half-savior idea will be tossed deep into Carlisle's bag of tricks, where it can collect dust sitting behind the Amar'e Stoudemire and Dirk Nowitzki frontcourt duo and other failed experiments.
But facing something as tricky as this one, it didn't hurt to try it. After all, the only real solution will come when team doctors clear Parsons for two halves worth basketball. Anything until then is just half measures trying to make the most out of merciless situation.
A call for physicality
Rick Carlisle: "We've played poorly in, really, two consecutive games, and that's not good. I've got to look at this objectively and see where we need to get better. I don't think it's necessarily as much an effort thing as it is, we need to be more physical. Our mindset has to be more physical. It's two nights in a row where we really got beaten up by a team, so we'll look at adjustments for that. No excuses. Every game in this league this year is going to be like this."
Dirk Nowitzki: "I think we got a bigger team. Wes is a physical guy at the two-guard and D-Will's a big point guard. Parsons, when he plays, is a long three. Zaza is known for being a physical guy. We've just got to use it better and try to keep the ball in front of us a little bit of us. Rebounding actually hasn't been the biggest issue. It's just keeping guys out of the lane."
Wesley Matthews: "As much as I'm one to hate this phrase, it's a process. We've got to speed it up because the West isn't going to do us any favors."
Chandler Parsons: "We need to get much better on every area. Physically, playmaking, turnovers defensively we have huge holes. We've got some room to improve for sure. It's difficult not playing together for a while but we can't continue to say that all season long."
On JaVale McGee's potential return
Rick Carlisle: "I don't know a timetable. He's doing better. It's a weeks, not days, thing, I know that. I really don't know when it is. He's not going to go on the court playing games in November, I can almost promise you that."