Unfortunately for the Dallas Mavericks, Wednesday night’s absurd, record-setting shooting in New Orleans wasn’t a harbinger of things to come, and they were blown out by the New Orleans Pelicans 107-91 Friday night in Dallas. Brandon Ingram led the Pelicans with 24 points, 12 assists, and eight rebounds while Luka Doncic had 21 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists for the Mavs.
Dallas’ shooting came back down to earth in this one to the tune of 40.5% from the field and only 29.4% from 3 on 10-of-34 shots. The Pelicans were even more offensively challenged early (their first made field goal didn’t come until 6:23 in the first quarter) but 11 first half Mavericks’ turnovers kept New Orleans within striking distance — 48-44 at the half. The Pelicans eventually struck and outscored the Mavs by 20 in the second half by dialing up the defensive pressure, hitting threes, and attacking the basket.
Here are our observations.
Shooting turning into feelings
Here are four notable quotes from Jason Kidd’s postgame press conference:
“We start to miss shots, we start to hang our heads, and get into out feelings…”
“We’re not going to be a team that’s going to shoot 70% again…”
“They wanted it more than we did tonight.”
“This team isn’t built to play defense.”
The Mavericks have talked this week about how seeing the ball go in the basket creates energy for the team on defense, and vice versa. Tonight you could see their frustration build and their confidence leave them as the ball clanged off the rim again and again. When the Pelicans came to life in the third, the Mavericks didn’t have the energy to get stops or shooting to keep pace.
Teams have been leaving Dwight Powell and Dorian Finney-Smith mostly unguarded at times this season to clog the lane and keep Luka from driving all the way to the basket. On Wednesday night in New Orleans the Pelicans doubled down on that strategy and didn’t guard anyone which did wonders for the Mavs’ ball movement, shooting percentage, and point differential. We knew it was unlikely for the Mavs to repeat that franchise record setting 68.7% shooting performance, but if there was a feeling that there was some kind of momentum established by that performance, tonight’s game made that look like wishful thinking. Threes weren’t falling. The lane was clogged. Shots were short, and the Pelicans didn’t allow anything easy for the home team.
Meanwhile, when shots started falling for New Orleans, their energy, aggressiveness, and confidence was obvious. The Mavericks didn’t have any answers in the third quarter. Wednesday AND tonight they held New Orleans to 107 points but Dallas’ offensive results were light years different. The defensive intensity was there early for Dallas but you could see it leave them little by little as their offensive frustrations mounted, and New Orleans was able to take advantage.
Playing without Porzingis
The Mavs missed their number two scorer in this one. Jason Kidd opted to start Maxi Kleber in place of Kristaps Porzingis who sat out with a knee contusion. Kleber filled in very nicely with 13 points, nine rebounds, his usual hustle and excellent defense, but Porzingis’ scoring, spacing, and rim protection were sorely missed.
Here’s hoping Porzingis plays Saturday night against Memphis and missing tonight’s game is more about load management than an injury to be concerned about.
This home cooking stinks
The Mavericks have suffered three straight losses in front of their home crowd, sandwiching a fun trip to NOLA (most are!). Tonight’s blowout came at the hands of a now 7-18 team that enjoyed every second of their revenge game. The Mavericks have less than 24 hours to get ready for a Memphis Grizzlies team that just won a game by 73 points.
So, the Mavs need to figure out how to start cooking at home again. Quickly.
Here’s our latest episode of Mavs Moneyball After Dark. If you’re unable to see the embed below, click here to be taken to the podcast directly. Or go to your favorite podcast app and search Mavs Moneyball Podcast.