The Mavericks' rally to beat the Toronto Raptors 99-92 on Tuesday night took place with starting point guard Rajon Rondo affixed to the bench after he and coach Rick Carlisle exchanged words during a timeout early in the third quarter.
Toronto led 62-53 when Carlisle called out to Rondo, who was dribbling past midcourt. Carlisle then abruptly called time out. After the Dallas players in the game reached the bench area, Carlisle and Rondo had an animated conversation amid a crowd of players and coaches. Rondo didn't return to the game.
Carlisle said he and Rondo had a "difference of opinion." Asked if Rondo's absence was a coaching decision or disciplinary, Carlisle said Rondo didn't play again "because I'm the coach and that's the decision that I made at the time."
Asked if Rondo would be Dallas' point guard for Wednesday night's game at Atlanta, Carlisle said, "That's what we brought him here for."
Rondo didn't speak to the media in the locker room after the game. He played 17:45 and finished with four points, four assists, three fouls and two turnovers.
Monta Ellis led the Mavericks with 20 points while Dirk Nowitzki added 18 in their third straight victory. Dallas' substitute guards pitched in with 27 points: Devin Harris 14 and J.J. Barea with 13.
"I thought it worked out well," Carlisle said of Rondo's absence for most of the second half. "The other guys stepped up, and we were able to win."
Nowitzki said a "dustup" during Dallas' 2010-11 championship season between Carlisle and Jason Terry "was probably the best thing that happened to us."
This time, Nowitzki said: "Stuff like that is never good. It's unfortunate, but it happens. It's about how the team responds."
Added Mavericks owner Mark Cuban:
"It's an emotional game and sometimes emotions come out. It's happened many times in the past and will happen many more in the future."
Toronto lost its third straight, having played four road games in five days. The Raptors were led by DeMar DeRozan with 18 points and substitute Greivis Vasquez with 14.
Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said "fatigue turnovers" hurt his team.
"Turnovers were crucial, brutal and led to baskets," Casey said.
The Raptors took a 77-74 lead into the fourth quarter before Dallas hit seven of its first 10 shots en route to a 12-point lead with 4:29 to play, outscoring Toronto 25-15 in the final quarter.
Toronto led by 13 points late in the first half. In the 100-97 loss at New Orleans on Monday night, the Raptors saw an 18-point lead disappear with Kyle Lowry missing a 3-point shot at the buzzer.
"They went on a run, and we dropped our heads," Lowry said.
For the first time this season, the Mavericks won consecutive games without scoring 100 points.
"For us to go far in the playoffs, we've got to play defence," Barea said. "We're getting better at it."
Cuban said he would like to expand the 82-game schedule to decrease the number of back-to-back games. Cuban said he would prefer pushing the playoffs into late June instead of starting the season earlier because baseball doesn't present the same TV competition as football.
Raptors: Casey was a Mavericks assistant under Carlisle for three years, saying his former boss allows his assistants to think like head coaches. . During halftime, Chuck Hayes visited with former Kentucky teammate Rondo on the Dallas bench.
Chandler Parsons missed his second consecutive game with an injured left ankle. He'll return no earlier than Saturday, when Dallas hosts Brooklyn . Amare Stoudemire scored six points in 17 minutes in his second Dallas appearance after scoring 14 in 11 minutes in his Mavericks debut on Sunday.
The Raptors host Golden State on Friday for their first home game in 16 days.
Dallas plays at Atlanta on Wednesday night. The Mavericks are 9-4 in the finales of back-to-backs this season.