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Rick Carlisle plans to play Rondo

NEW ORLEANS --Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said he plans to play Rajon Rondo in crunch time on a regular basis even though he benched the four-time All-Star point guard for the final 5:12 of Friday night's 102-98 loss to the Chicago Bulls.

"The other night's an aberration most likely," Carlisle said before Sunday's game against the New Orleans Pelicans. "We have a closing five. I just deviated from it the other night. I don't expect that to happen very often.

"Going forward, we play the whole game to set up the last five or six minutes to have a chance to win or catch somebody or close it out with a lead. Rondo's going to be in there most of the time. There's no doubt about that."

Carlisle explained Rondo's benching Friday as a "coach's decision" and declined to elaborate on his logic other than saying he went with a gut feeling.

Carlisle and the Mavs' front office have repeatedly raved about Rondo's proven clutch prowess since they acquired him from the Boston Celtics in a December blockbuster deal, saying his ability to find multiple ways to make critical plays reminded them of former Dallas point guard Jason Kidd.

The Mavs have succeeded with Rondo on the floor in clutch situations -- the final five minutes of a game with the score within five points -- outscoring opponents by 29 points in 28 minutes

"That's why we got him. Right?" Mavs owner Mark Cuban said. "Sometimes coaches coach by feel and you lose track of things, but it happens. There's been times that Dirk [Nowitzki] hasn't closed, times Monta [Ellis] hasn't closed. You pick any guy in particular that we've had over the years. With Rick in particular, when something's going, it happens."

Rondo, who has developed a good relationship with Carlisle, acknowledged Friday that he wanted to be on the floor down the stretch but said the coach's decision was "no big deal."

As much as Cuban values Rondo's ability to perform in crunch time, the owner steered clear of commenting on who he wants on the floor to finish games.

"I'm in favor of letting someone who I think is a top-three coach in the league coach," Cuban said. "That's what I'm in favor of."

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