Well that was frustrating. Make that two straight game with highly disappointing endings. I don't want to dwell on this too much though. Tyson Chandler is okay, so the Mavs will live to fight another day.
So this game didn't get off to the best start. The Mavericks looked like they had just woken up from a good Sunday afternoon nap (which... I don't know, I guess that's possible?). The offense just looked disjointed. No one seemed to have a good idea of what they were doing, except for when Rondo and Parsons basically just decided "hey no one else is doing anything, so I guess I'll drive to the basket."
Dirk got into foul trouble early and missed a lot of the first quarter. Several bad lob attempts were made. Look, it was sloppy and not all that entertaining. And yet, the Mavs finished the quarter only down by three points. I don't know if that says more about Dallas or New Orleans.
Rajon Rondo was really the only highlight for the Mavs early. The defense seemed to just leave him lanes to the basket, and he took full advantage. That's something that I've really enjoyed about Rondo so far: he prefers to facilitate, but if the defense isn't going to take him seriously, he will make them pay if necessary. Rondo scored 9 in the first quarter, and finished the quarter with an absurd three-pointer that he just absolutely buried off the dribble.
Speaking of Mavs who had a good first half, DWIGHT POWELL. I mean, the guy's gonna be a rookie of the year candidate soon, right? (This may be a bit of an exaggeration, but we'll see.) Powell didn't come in until very late in the first (Al-Farouq Aminu was the first big off the bench), but played really well in the first half after a mixed performance against Chicago Friday night. A couple of his highlights included an offensive rebound that led to a Richard Jefferson 3-pointer for the first lead of the game.
Honestly, the Pelicans played really well, and it says something about the Mavs that they were able to look pretty lackluster for most of the first half and still stay in it. Dirk overcame early foul trouble to put up 12 points, and Monta took over at times in the second quarter to lead Dallas in first half scoring with 18 of his own.
The end of the first half felt eerily similar to the Chicago game, with the Mavs playing pretty scrappy but unable to chip away at the lead. Eric Gordon hit a couple of threes, both of which were answered immediately by Monta threes. But Gordon wasn't the only Pelican hitting threes, and the Mavs just didn't seem too interested in putting in a lot of effort on the defensive end in the first half. Mavs put up a very respectable 56 points in the half, but unfortunately allowed New Orleans to score 61.
The third quarter was really confusing. Dirk came out and scored the Mavs first 5 points, but Anthony Davis matched both of Dirk's shots with 4 points of his own. Meanwhile the Mavs defense continued to be really bad, and Tyreke Evans continued to do basically whatever he wanted.
Then Tyson got hurt. He appeared to bang his left knee against Anthony Davis's knee. He initially went to the bench, then later the locker room, and the Mavs reported that his return would be questionable. As expected, the hearts of Mavs fans everywhere sank. But Dwight Powell came in for Tyson and seemed dead set on keeping the Mavs in it.
Powell basically went head-to-head with Anthony Davis and totally held his own. Between Powell and Rondo, the Mavs somehow stayed within 3 of the Pelicans by the end of the 3rd quarter.
With about 10:30 left in the game, Mavs fans breathed a sigh of relief as Tyson Chandler reentered the game. Unfortunately, Tyson was not a magic cure-all, at least not at first. The Mavs were down by 8 points with just under 9 left in the game before things started to look up. Tyson got a block, and that led to a Jefferson dunk. Then Dirk hit a shot. Then Tyson got a put-back dunk. Then Dirk hit another open jumper and suddenly the Mavs were only down by 2.
At this point it started to feel like all the momentum was with the Mavs, and Jefferson drew an offensive foul on Tyreke Evans, who previously couldn't do anything wrong. With under 5:30 left, Monta took a three he absolutely shouldn't have taken, but drilled it anyway to tie the game at 97, because Monta have it all. The Mavs then got a defensive stop, Monta missed a three, Mavs got the rebound, and then Monta laid it up to take the lead.
From here on out, it was pretty back-and-forth, with equal amounts of gritty and sloppy from both teams. With just under 4:00 left, Dirk drilled an open corner 3 to break a tie. Tyson Chandler, apparently fully healed from whatever knee issue was ailing him, somehow miraculously saved a ball that appeared destined to go out of bounds. At one point, Monta drew the charge on a New Orleans fast break, because Monta have it all.
But because the Mavs can't let us rest comfortably, the Pelicans stayed with it, and Eric Gordon hit a corner 3 to tie the game at 102 all with 1:33 left.
As is often a theme in Mavs game, there was just too much Monta for the opponent. Monta blew buy the entire defense (including destroyer of worlds Anthony Davis) to get the easy layup to take the 104-103 lead with 34 seconds left. Evans wouldn't go away and retook the lead, but Monta wasn't having it. He wasted no time in again driving to the basket, retaking the lead with 12.3 seconds left.
Unfortunately, Monta can't beat both his opponent and the officiating crew. With 12.3 seconds left, the refs called a very questionable foul on Tyson, leading to 2 made free throws by Anthony Davis. (Long-time Mavs fans will be completely unsurprised to hear that it was Bennett Salvatore with the call). The Pelicans then played the inbounds very well and forced the turnover. This was followed by Tyson trying to foul Davis on the inbound for a good 2 seconds before the refs actually called it. Davis hit both, Monta missed a three, and the Mavs lost the game.
Monta finished the game with 36 points, but it wasn't enough. I really hate blaming the officiating crew for a loss, but Mavs fans are probably completely justified for having a bad taste in their mouths after this game. Ultimately, Dallas screwed around for too long in this game, and they have a 2-game losing streak to show for it. But the end of the game was really iffy, and no doubt Cuban should have some interesting comments about how those final possessions went down.
Let's all just be glad that Tyson is okay.