This was a schedule loss if there ever was one
The Mavericks played Tuesday night in Dallas, getting a big win against the Portland Trail Blazers. Having to scoot down to New Orleans and go against Mavs killer Julius Randle and Anthony Davis on short rest and without Dennis Smith Jr. (out with that pesky wrist injury), there wasn’t much expectation here for the Mavs to do well.
Lo and behold, that’s what happened. Dallas looked sluggish all game and couldn’t hit any shots in the first three quarters when the game was still fairly competitive. The Mavs ended up hitting just 14-of-46 threes, just a ghastly number inflated by the Mavericks tired legs and sloppy offense that just kind of pinged the ball around the perimeter before launching a bad shot.
Seriously, Julius Randle owns the Mavericks
Randle has played 11 games against the Mavericks in his career before tonight and in those games he’s averaged 16.9 points, 10.9 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game. Those are all his highest averages against any single team he’s faced in his career. It’s nuts.
Randle did it again on Wednesday night, torching Dallas to the tune of 27 points and 18 rebounds. He only had one assist, but he didn’t need to pass tonight with how easy his offense was humming against the Mavericks front court. With Randle starting alongside Anthony Davis, the Mavericks were just killed by whatever matchup they threw out there. The Pelicans used the duo to pick on the relatively undersized Harrison Barnes and DeAndre Jordan had one of his ghost games, unable to really do much against Davis on the perimeter and getting worked by Randle when they were matched up.
My god, the turnovers
The Mavericks had 18 turnovers, with so many of them being disastrous live-ball turnovers that led directly to easy runs-outs for the Pelicans.
J.J. Barea in particular had a rough night, coughing the ball up four times in 18 minutes. Harrison Barnes had three. Pick and roll man DeAndre Jordan somehow had four, continuing the disturbing trend of what’s supposed to be a low-usage roll man piling up an alarming number of turnovers week in and week out.
As mentioned in the first observation — Dallas looked zapped. That’s not really an excuse, more so than it feels like the truth. The Mavericks expended a lot of energy putting away a talented (although currently struggling) Trail Blazers team the night before and it just didn’t seem like they had anything left tonight. The Mavericks also haven’t played a back-to-back in a while, so perhaps they just were unprepared a bit mentally for the challenge.
BONUS OBSERVATION: DeAndre Jordan needs to be better
Jordan has been better during the Mavs winning run, expending more energy somewhat consistently on defense and being more of a factor in winning basketball plays. Against the Pelicans, it felt like Jordan reverted back to the invisible Jordan from the Mavs 2-7 start.
Jordan had two points and eight rebounds in 24 minutes with no steals and no blocks. The Mavericks like to keep Jordan engaged with elbow touches for dribble hand-offs, but it feels like overkill at times with how long Jordan holds the ball there, allowing his defender to back up and wall off the paint to prevent him from hitting those backdoor cutters he was hitting earlier in the season. Again, four turnovers is an astronomical amount for what Jordan’s role is on this offense. At least, what it’s supposed to be. The Mavs might need to dial this back a bit.
Again, none of the Mavericks had a great game and the entire team looked like it was playing in mud, but Jordan’s ineffectiveness just stands out more. He’s a rim protector on defense and a rim-runner on offense. When he isn’t doing either of those things, he just sticks out like a sore thumb. Jordan provides zero offensive value (and usually negative value) if he isn’t setting screens and rolling hard to the basket — he’s a non-threat outside of those situations so when the Mavs let him hold the ball at the elbow for extended possessions and not actively get him rumbling down the lane, Dallas might as well be playing 4-on-5 on offense.
To repeat: Jordan wasn’t alone in his listless play — the Mavericks were bad — he just stuck out a bit more.