(SportsNetwork.com) - Things have become very complicated for the Dallas Mavericks over the last few days, but they'll try to stay together when they face the Houston Rockets Friday night in Game 3 at American Airlines Center.
After the Mavs fell down 0-2 in this best-of-seven Western Conference quarterfinal series Tuesday, the problems for head coach Rick Carlisle and company actually intensified.
Chandler Parsons, a prize free agent, who jumped ship from the Rockets in the offseason, sat out Game 2, then was shut down for the season with a knee injury.
The bigger, sexier storyline revolves around Rajon Rondo. The All-Star point guard, who was acquired during the season from the Boston Celtics, was benched after 10 minutes of destructive play.
On Wednesday, it was announced Rondo suffered a back injury, but Carlisle made it clear that Rondo's presence was no longer welcome.
Carlisle was asked if he expected Rondo to ever wear a Mavericks uniform again on Wednesday, and he replied, "No, I don't."
Rondo dealt with self-inflicted foul trouble and played less than 10 minutes. He didn't return to the game after picking up his fourth personal with 11 minutes remaining in the third quarter. He also picked up a technical foul for shoving James Harden.
So Rondo, a free agent in the offseason, will be done through the playoffs. Dallas, hopefully distraction-free, needs to get back into this series if it has any chance of upsetting the Rockets.
The Rockets took Game 2, 111-99.
Houston turned a nip-and-tuck affair through three quarters into a rout after exploding during the first half of the fourth. And it occurred with MVP candidate Harden on the bench.
Josh Smith came alive in the second half, posting 13 points, nine assists and six rebounds after the break to lead the Rockets.
"Kept making plays," Rockets coach Kevin McHale said of Smith.
That he did, especially in the final frame.
Smith, who tallied just two points on 1-of-5 shooting during a woeful opening 24 minutes, recorded six assists during Houston's game-changing 19-4 run in the fourth. Three of those helpers were alley-oops to his former high school teammate Dwight Howard.
"Josh and Dwight were being big in the middle," McHale said.
The surge turned an 84-81 deficit into a 100-88 lead with 5:39 left.
Houston was never threatened again.
Howard had 28 points and 12 rebounds and Harden finished with 24 points, six assists and five rebounds for the Rockets, who won Game 1 by a 118-108 score on Saturday night. Corey Brewer netted 15 points for Houston.
Monta Ellis supplied 24 points, while Dirk Nowitzki provided 10 points and 13 boards, but was just 3-of-14 from the floor for the Mavericks. J.J. Barea, who is expected to start in place of Rondo, had 13, followed by 11 from Tyson Chandler.
The Mavs are 8-2 in the last 10 against the Rockets in Dallas.
Game 4 will be Sunday night in Big D.