Well, that was frustrating to watch. The Mavs opened the game with the sort of offensive performance that makes even New Orleans' defense look good. Even Dirk looked like he was still trying to shake off a NYE hangover, missing two of his first six free-throws. Neither team managed to make a shot from deep until Deron Williams sank one with a minute to go in the first.
The game stayed close for the most part, with each team taking the lead and failing to run away with it. The Pelicans opened the fourth with a 12-point lead, but fortunately the Mavs remembered how to hit threes and fought their way back into the game.
Unfortunately, a ridiculously late call sent Ryan Anderson to the line to give the Pelicans a five point lead with a minute left. The Mavs couldn't score on the following possession, and despite a final Dirk dagger, that was basically the game.
Carlisle needs to play Zaza 48 minutes a game
Zaza got off to a somewhat slow start, but he was eventually able to take advantage of the fact that Anthony Davis is frequently the only good basketball player on the floor for the Pelicans and he spent a lot of his time guarding Dirk. Zaza ended the game with 14 points on 6-11 shooting an nine rebounds, narrowly missing yet another double-double.
It was fortunate that he played well, because both JaVale McGee and Charlie Villanueva were total non-factors tonight, going 0-2 and 0-4 respectively, with McGee somehow managing four fouls in 13 minutes. Powell looked a little better in his nine minutes, but was only able to contribute two points and a single rebound.
JJ Barea has definitely come back to Earth after an uncharacteristically good run, but thankfully Raymond Felton wants to get paid next year and gave the Mavericks a stellar first half and ended the night with 13 points (on 5-7 shooting), three assists, three rebounds, and a steal.
Deron Williams, who was a welcome sight after the team's slow start, also had a strong performance off the bench before leaving in the fourth with hamstring tightness.
The Mavs' defense looked bad
It was lucky (though not lucky enough) that the Mavericks decided to hit their threes in the fourth (the team went from shooting 25 percent on the night to 40 in a matter of minutes), because they didn't seem terribly interested in stopping the Pelicans from scoring. New Orleans shot almost 70 percent in the final quarter.
How is this possible?
The Pelicans played two guys listed as centers, both of whom made zero field goals out of zero attempts.