The Dallas Mavericks lost their third straight game Sunday evening, this time falling to the New Orleans Pelicans 126-109. Jrue Holiday led a balanced New Orleans attack, scoring 30 points and dishing out seven assists. Dirk Nowitzki scored a season high 23 points for the Mavericks in defeat.
Both teams looked sharp for a Sunday afternoon game, with the Mavericks pacing the Pelicans early. But the Pelicans, currently fourth in a heated Western conference playoff race, slowly inched out a lead which turned to double digits just before the end of the period. However, Dirk Nowitzki was feeling it early and connected on an incredible wing three over Anthony Davis to close the gap to eight points. The Pelicans led 33-25 after one frame.
The Mavericks started the second frame sloppy with a pair of turnovers. The Pelicans continued their steady pace as Dirk seemed to be the only Maverick able to score in the first 18 minutes of play. With Anthony Davis getting a rest, Nikola Mirotic showed his value, catching fire and hitting a pair of three pointers, giving the Pelicans a 16 point lead. The Mavericks hung within 14 to 18 points for the rest of the quarter. The Mavericks trailed 49-65 at the half.
There weren’t many notes to take in the third quarter. At one point, the Mavericks closed the lead to 11, but couldn’t cut it to single digits. Dallas ended the quarter down 13 points, 91-78.
The final frame was worth watching as the Mavericks continued a run started in the third quarter by Kyle Collinsworth. A five-point run became eight on a Collinsworth and-one, which became 11 points on a crazy Dirk Nowitzki three, which then became 14 points on a J.J. Barea three. The Mavericks had cut the lead to four points, trailing 87-91. But the Pelicans answered with a run of their own, scoring ten straight over the next two minutes. The game would not be close again. The Mavericks eventually fell 126-109.
Now, some things!
Dirk Nowitzki, still good
It was a vintage performance for Dirk Nowitzki’s 63rd game of the 2017-18 season as he poured in a season high with 23 points. He also moved up the record books once again, moving up to 8th All Time on the “Made field goals” list, passing Elvin Hayes.
It’s night’s like this where those of us still watching wonder why in the heck retirement is even on Dirk’s mind at all. He’s moving well, his shot looks good, and above all else, he seems happy. There was a moment before tip off as the players were greeting one another and he had the biggest grin on his face. That sort of joy might seem impossible during a 19 game season, but Dirk really seems to love the game. I just hope moments like that play into his decision this off season.
Nerlens Noel, still driving the coaches crazy
He’s still not running hard (getting beat by Cheick Diallo up and down the floor) and that’s one thing, but then he just keeps making the wrong decision on simple plays.
There was a moment just before half time, an out of bounds play underneath the Pelican’s basket, that really could be the play which most accurately defines the season for Nerlens Noel.
With three Pelicans near the free throw line and Rajon Rondo inbounding the ball, E’Twaun Moore ran off a pair of screens coming toward the nearside wing. The second screener was Anthony Davis and for some reason he opted to leave Davis and hedge the screen just for a second. Well, Davis saw that hedge and cut to the rim immediately where Rondo found him for a dunk.
This play is really a microcosm of Noel’s season. The decision was poor on just about every level, starting with the basic fact that he’s the last line of defense, but including the fact that he opted to leave a freaking MVP candidate because he was concerned about E’Twaun Moore. It’s an unacceptable decision and a big reason why Noel didn’t play again until garbage time.