The Mavericks entered Friday night with the second-worst record in the NBA, but only the ninth-worst point differential. Dallas has lost so many close games and has rarely been blown out, it was only a matter of time before the tank fell into a ditch.
That’s happening now, as the Mavericks got their third straight win by shooting the tar out of the ball and drubbing the Pelicans 128-120.
Say whatever you want about how much this win matters. The tank lines have been drawn in Mavs fandom, but it’s an exhausting conversation at this point. Whatever side you fall on, it doesn’t really matter — the Mavericks are going to do what they do and a Rick Carlisle-coached team is going to try to win as many games as possible, draft positioning be damned.
The Mavs were hot all night, scoring 77 points in the first half and at one point leading by 26. Dallas just completely beat the stuffing out of a disinterested New Orleans team for the first 24 minutes of this game.
Predictably, Dallas cooled off a bit in the second half and New Orleans crawled back into it. At one point the Pelicans got it to single digits in the fourth quarter and the lead tipped-toed between nine and 11 points for much of the frame.
DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis, like they have been all season, were the New Orleans offense. The Mavs didn’t do a particularly great job on them, but really, considering the Mavs roster, they did the best they could. Cousins and Davis are that good. Davis especially went bananas in the fourth quarter and got the lead down to three.
Despite the potential for the Mavs to really Marv is up, the Mavs hung on and won a game. Take whatever emotion that makes you feel and go to bed. Wait not yet! Finish reading this recap! Here’s what we learned/observed
The Mavericks shot the absolute piss out of the ball
Dallas nailed a franchise-record 22 three-pointers, a monumental achievement when you consider how irrelevant and talent-barren this Mavs roster is. Consider all the great offensive Mavs teams since Dirk has been here, yet this one with a roster that won’t sniff 40 wins is the one that makes the most threes in a game in the team’s history. Go figure.
It goes to show where the NBA is right now, as even bad teams are jacking and making threes at unprecedented levels. It’s fun to watch, for sure. Glad the Mavericks are adapting their offense to modern standards.
The Mavs had five players make at least three 3-pointers: Dennis Smith Jr. and Devin Harris each canned five, Wesley Matthews had four and both Dirk Nowitzki and J.J. Barea had three.
Dennis Smith Jr. got his first triple double (sorta) and it was badass
Say what you will about how most of the Mavericks best players are over 30 and the team isn’t all that great — Smith is the damn truth and every night he gets better before our eyes.
While Barea and Dirk ran the two-man game to close the game out as the Pelicans stormed back to get the game within one possession, it was Smith who was steady all night, sparking the Mavs to their huge first half, making four 3-pointers and leading the team with 13 points, eight assists and five rebounds.
Smith had his rookie warts (seven turnovers, most of them pretty careless) but he was otherwise in control all night. He shot with confidence when New Orleans went under screens and he attacked with quickness when the Pelicans changed up their defense after Smith lit them up from beyond the arc. It was just so damn cool to see a young and dynamic guard in a Mavericks uniform do the things Smith did. It would have been neat to see him close the game out, but he was on the floor at least, so that’s progress.
Also, Smith never grabbed his 10th rebound. Dirk got it right next to him and the New Orleans scorekeeper for whatever reasons gave the rebound to Smith. So don’t be shocked if you wake up tomorrow and the triple-double got taken away. It doesn’t really take away the type of dominant performance Smith put in though.
Why the Mavericks will probably lust after DeMarcus Cousins
The worst-kept secret around the Mavericks is that DeMarcus Cousins will be their prime free-agent target this summer. Dallas horded cap room last summer so they could be one of the few teams with max-level space this summer and Cousins leads the free agent class.
Cousins is a damn monster. He had 32 points, 20 rebounds, eight assists, two steals and five blocks. When the Pelicans had absolutely nothing in the tank to start the game, Cousins bulldozed his way to the basket at will. Cousins was literally running some 1-on-5 offense as the rest of his teammates just kind of stood around with their thumbs in their butts.
He’s just a special and dominant player. There’s no way the starry-eyed Mavericks won’t go after him, despite the team’s history with chasing max-level talent. He still has his troubling quirks (he really loafs it on transition defense when the game isn’t going well) but he’s undoubtedly one of the best in the league
BONUS NOTE: Go to hell, Rondo
Rajon Rondo finished with an invisible six points, eight assists and two rebounds while getting his ass handed to him by Smith. Jump in a lake, you turd.