The Dallas Mavericks opened up the season 2-0 for the first time since the 2004-05 campaign by defeating the New Orleans Pelicans on the road 123-116. Luka Doncic recorded a triple double with 25 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists. Brandon Ingram scored 25 points for New Orleans in defeat.
With another puzzling starting line up, the Mavericks got off to an ugly start against New Orleans. Dallas was simply unable to guard the pick and roll for the entire quarter, letting the Pelicans shoot 71 percent from the floor, mainly right at the rim. Offensively, Dallas played fairly well, hitting half their shots in a variety of ways. But the Pelicans played so effectively, Dallas trailed 27-41 after 12 minutes.
The second quarter proved Rick Carlisle’s pre-season emphasis on process. Led by a plucky bench effort paired with Delon Wright, Dallas chipped away at the Pelican lead. The Mavericks tied the game at 55 a piece with four and a half minutes remaining then proceeded to kick the offense into overdrive. The Mavericks scored 17 points in the remaining minutes for a total of 45 in the frame and took a 72-64 lead into the half.
Dallas appeared ready to run away with the game in the third, scoring immediately to open the quarter. But the offense went cold for the Mavericks as repeated good looks both from outside and the rim refused to fall. Luka Doncic kept the Mavericks ahead with a number of nifty assists, but the Pelicans caught fire from three late in the quarter and pulled within two two points. The Mavericks took a 95-93 lead into the final quarter.
Seth Curry helped the Mavericks blow the lead back up to 10 but the feisty Pelicans fought all the way back. After letting New Orleans tie the game at the 4:54 mark, Dallas took firm control with a six point lead. But since these are still our Dallas Mavericks, a series of miscues from Porzingis as well as excellent shot making from the Pelicans resulted in the lead getting cut to two points with 2:12 remaining.
Then Luka Doncic happened. A driving layup, a very bad New Orleans turnover, then a Doncic banked three nearly put the game on ice. Delon Wright’s steal off a Dorian Finney-Smith missed three effectively ended the game. Dallas opens the season 2-0 with a 123-116 victory on the road.
There’s a Wright way to victory
Luka Doncic’s going to lead the box score, but Delon Wright was the absolute key to the game. After another baffling starting line up from Rick Carlisle, Wright was the Maverick who settled the bench unit in the second quarter and got the Mavericks on track. Between his drives and scoring, where he poured in 20 points on 8 of 12 shooting, he also had seven boards and three helpers.
But his real contribution was defensively. Steals aren’t a good indicator of defense, but his five led the team and jump started a number of fast break plays. He also swiped the ball away from Josh Hart to seal the win. Though this game may be a statistical outlier, these sorts of performances are why the Mavericks made a point to get Wright this off-season.
The second straight weird starting line up
Rick Carlisle is the coach, I get that. I’m just a dude who loves basketball and will never know as much as he does. But these line ups are bad. Courtney Lee may be the consummate professional but there needs to be a better reason why he’s playing other than some bizarre point to past defensive performances. The Mavericks can’t afford these bad starts. That they are 2-0 is a testament to the adjustments, but let’s stop getting in the hole to begin with.
Look, there’s a lot I want to harp on. Porzingis has seven total rebounds for the year so far. Dorian Finney-Smith is a mess on offense. Seth Curry has to play more. Justin Jackson might be who I think he is. I could write another 200 words on this stuff.
But today is not that day. It’s been 15 years since the Mavericks opened a season 2-0! That’s AMAZING. The way the team played in spurts against the Pelicans should have all of us salivating for when they eventually figure all this out.
I mean sheesh — did you see that second quarter? 45 points and they easily could’ve scored another 10. For now, let’s revel in the victory. We can nitpick later.
Josh and I go nuts on our podcast
A late addition to the recap is Josh Bowe and I rambling about how awesome the second quarter was. Then I express some mixed feelings on KP’s game. Josh ends with how silly some of this line up stuff is. All in all, I think you’ll enjoy it. Give it a listen by clicking here if you can’t see the embedded post below.