Style did not matter tonight. It didn't matter if the Mavericks surrendered a 30-point lead or were trailing by 40. The Mavs just needed a win tonight, whatever the cost.
Facing a Pelicans squad again after thrashing it on Friday night, a Pelicans squad down Jrue Holiday, Ryan Anderson and Tyreke Evans, Dallas simply had to win. Being it the fourth game in five nights, it didn't really matter how. Just get the win.
They did that, thanks to a marvelous game from Dirk Nowitzki. 40 points on 10-of-20 shooting and 15-of-16 from the foul line (although he missed his last two shots, adding to his puzzling crunch-time struggles). He scored 20 points in the third quarter, bring the Mavericks to life after a mostly blah first half in which Dallas scored just 42 points.
The Mavs did their damage at the foul line, going 39-of-45. Monta Ellis had 26 points, going 12-of-16 from the stripe.
It wasn't a nice, clean, dominant win like Friday night's, but the Mavs will take it. This team, on a fourth and five nights, just needed to squeak out a win in any which way.
Oh and Dirk scoring 40 on said fourth in five nights at age 35 is pretty great. And this dude wants to take a pay cut this summer. Thank god for Dirk.
The whole thing played out like a game of chicken. The Mavs could barely hit a shot in the first Q, so the Pelicans showed them who REALLY couldn't hit shots. Then the Mavs upped the ante with a 42 point third, including TWENTY in the Q from the Big German (as mentioned earlier), so the Pelicans met them right there. Is it usual to have two sub 20 Qs and two 40+ qs in the same game? Let's say no.
The Mavs would enter the 4th with a 7 point lead, but they didn't really want to have it so they gave it away pretty fast. After an Austin Rivers three, of all things, an Eric Gordon free throw, and two Anthony Davis shots It was down to one with ten minutes to go. The Mavs responded with some pretty good stuff, but a Crowder turn over and a Monta travel, both resulting in points, gave the Pellies a three point lead, which they kept until a Calderon three with 4:30 left, took a two-point lead when Orioles 2nd baseman Brian Roberts hit a long one...
The final turning point of the game came a minute later when Dirk almost canned a 4-point play opportunity, settled for three FTs, then Wright stole the ball from EG and Monta made a layup, giving the Mavs a 7 point lead with 2:42 to go. The Mavs missed lots and lots of opportunities to really put it away after that, and sent Anthony Davis to the line THREE times in the last minute and twenty, but Dirk and Caldy hit theirs to ice it. Nice to see Caldy get free throws at the end, since he's usually just in-bounding it. Sometimes you should have the guy who has the best single season FT% in league history take important free throws, you know?
Anyhow. Typically amazing game from Anthony Davis, who was 10-17 from the field for 28 points and 14 boards, big nights from a lot of Pellies really, but nobody shone as big as Dirk's 40 on 20 shots, and Ellis had his 3rd straight game of 50%+ shooting and 20+ points. We might regret only barely wining a game against an ostensibly worse team missing two of its best players, especially after last night's thrashing, but the facts are that the Mavs had an abysmal scoring night from everyone not named Dirk, Monta,or Caldy, with another really bad starting performance from Jae Crowder (1-5, 2 boards, 5 points), and a more or less complete no-show by the bench (a combined 5-15 for 18 points). And they put one in the win column.
We will take it.
(Editor's Note: Andytobo also contributed to this article)