The Dallas Mavericks fell to the Pelicans, 112-103, after a poor stretch to start clutch time put the Pelicans into a dominant position. By any metric, the performance that the team put up tonight in the absence of their two stars, Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, was admirable, but the loss still seemed telegraphed.
Key role players had season-worst performances tonight, and the recent departures of Wes Iwundu and James Johnson meant Dallas had an ultra-thin roster for tonight, and the limited shot opportunities and porous rim defense highlighted that. Here are a few numbers that describe the game:
11: The Mavericks were outscored by 11 in the final clutch-time five minutes of the game
Allowing the Pelicans to score 21 points in five minutes of basketball is unacceptable. New Orleans’ big two stars, Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, repeatedly got optimal looks at the basket. The Mavericks gave up easy drives to the rim for Williamson with little more than a weak swipe at the ball, and Ingram feasted on Boban Marjanovic’s inability to leave the restricted zone.
These problems were exacerbated in clutch time, when the Mavericks’ offense effectively became a lame duck, giving the ball to Tim Hardaway, Jr. who was forced to take some tough shots due to the lack of options.
31-9: The Mavericks went on a 31-9 run during the second and third quarters
It was a period during the game that had many Mavericks fans scratching their head. The Pelicans finished the first quarter up 35-20, prompting most to mail it in for the night. A run fueled by Jalen Brunson and Hardaway helped Dallas close the gap. The Pelicans, in many ways, were the opposite of the Mavericks: they have decent talent in their two stars and role players, but seemed to look for non-Zion players to make plays when Williamson was absolutely unstoppable.
30: Tim Hardaway, Jr. is the first Maverick player off the bench to have multiple 30-point games since Jason Terry
The sixth man had himself a night and was the only one keeping the Mavericks competitive for long stretches of the night. He was easily the only player willing to take contested or deep jump shots when the options available to others were awful, and he connected on a very efficient percentage of them.
Hardaway has the extremely important offensive role on the Mavericks, and is arguably one of the best sixth-men in the NBA. Jordan Clarkson of the league-leading Utah Jazz is the likely sixth-man of the year, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Hardaway ends up a finalist.
Tim Hardaway Jr. has his second 30-point game off the bench this season. Only three other guys have done it twice this year (Clarkson, Ross, Monk) and no one has done it three times.— Bobby Karalla (@bobbykaralla) March 28, 2021
0: The total playing time all Maverick rookies received today
Once again, all signs pointed to some run for rookies Josh Green, Tyler Bey, and Nate Hinton. The Mavericks two stars were out, Green had shown flashes to the tune of seven points last night, and two bench players were just sent to tonight’s opponent. Instead, they found themselves on the bench, along with the newest Maverick Nicolo Melli.
I personally am an advocate for playing the rookies over others who have a demonstrated track record of causing significant harm this season such as Dwight Powell, who finished with zero points and one rebound in 17 minutes.
The Mavericks visit Oklahoma City on Monday, and that game can be viewed on League Pass or Fox Sports Southwest.