Following an escape against New Orleans in Dallas Saturday night, the Dallas Mavericks had three days to rest and prepare to face the Pelicans on their home floor. Instead, the Mavericks got caught looking ahead to the Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday and were waxed by the Pelicans, 120-105. Ryan Anderson became the latest power forward to punish Dallas, scoring 25 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Dirk Nowitzki led the Mavericks in defeat, scoring 18 points in just 20 minutes.
1. The Maverick back court has to produce something
The Pelicans outscored the Mavericks by about a point for every minute played by both Deron Williams (-25 in 23 minutes) and Wesley Matthews (-15 in 15 minutes), which is atrocious. Matthews has a built in excuse, as he'll be rounding into form for most of the season. He's simply going to have bad nights now and again. Williams, on the other hand, was God awful. From the opening tip he was sloppy with the ball, lethargic on drives, and really off on the timing of his passes. Though he was only credited with a single turnover, his targeting was off all night, passing behind guys repeatedly.
Defensively, both were a mess as well, though they were hardly alone. Matthews was late to close outs and Williams got taken off the dribble repeatedly.
2. Dirk Nowitzki is the only player Dallas can turn to right now when it absolutely needs a bucket
The Big German is off to a fantastic start this season, hitting open buckets and generally being the best player on a hobbled Dallas offense. It was Dirk's buckets which willed the Mavericks back into the game in the second quarter and it was Dirk's personal 9-0 run that gave Dallas a heartbeat momentarily in the third before the Pelicans pulled away for good.
But it's asking too much of Dirk, too soon into the season. With Wes and Chandler Parsons hobbled, Deron Williams has to step up. J.J. Barea and Raymond Felton tried, but they're simply not good enough.. It's games like tonight when Dallas really needed a player like Monta Ellis.
3. Team rebounding has to get better
Without a true small forward, Rick Carlisle is opting to go with small lineups featuring far too many point guards for my liking. This results in the Mavericks getting crushed at what feels like key moments in the game. Of Ryan Anderson's game-high 11 rebounds, five were on the offensive end, most a result of switching during game action. Between his putback buckets and giving New Orleans a second crack at a possession, Anderson seemed to stick a knife into Dallas at the worst possible moments during the various attempts at a Mavericks rally.