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3 observations from the Mavs’ 125-118 win over the New Orleans Pelicans

Dallas logs another road victory and is now 11 games over .500

Dallas Mavericks v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks (35-24) earn another road victory over the New Orleans Pelicans (23-36), 125-118 and pushing them to 11 games over .500. Luka Doncic finished with 49 points, 15 rebounds, and 8 assists while Jalen Brunson and Maxi Kleber added 23 and 20, respectively. New Pelican addition CJ McCollum finished with 38 points, 5 assists, and 2 rebounds. The Pelicans are having a rough year, so while this win wasn’t overly impressive for Dallas, each one counts in the Western Conference.

Reggie Bullock was out once again, missing his second straight game with a hip injury, which earned Josh Green his second start of the season. Luka got going early and the rest of the team followed suit, knocking down nine (!!) threes in the first quarter. Coach Jason Kidd brought in Spencer Dinwiddie as an early substitution for Brunson. I am a big fan of having any two out of the Doncic-Brunson-Dinwiddie trio on the floor at all times. Dinwiddie appears to still be adjusting to Dallas’ system, but he clearly knows how to keep the ball moving and set up his teammates. Fellow Mavs Moneyball staff member Iztok Franko wrote a fantastic piece elaborating on that more here.

Dallas continued to keep their foot on the gas, opening up the second quarter with a deep three from Davis Bertans. The playmaking provided by Doncic, Brunson, and Dinwiddie allowed for the Mavs’ offense to stay aggressive, earning them 16 free throw attempts as a team in the first half. Dallas finished the first half on 57.5/50/81.3 shooting splits, with Luka logging 25 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists. Mavs lead 71-58.

The third quarter started off slowly with a Doncic turnover, leading to a transition three by CJ McCollum. Luka quickly turned it around though, knocking down a leaning bank-shot floater and then two free throws on the following possession. Doncic’s handprints were all over the third quarter and everyone seemed to get out of the way. He finished the third with 45 points, 11 rebounds, and 8 assists. Luka’s play seemed to suck the life out of the Pelicans, with Dallas’ lead growing to 24 points to close out the period.

The Mavericks continued their impressive shooting night in the fourth, with Dinwiddie splashing home an open three on the right wing off a Brunson assist. After getting subbed out at the 10-minute mark, Coach Kidd brought Doncic back with 6:35 to go, giving him the opportunity to log another triple double and his second 50-point game in the last week. Dallas goes cold while New Orleans caught fire, bringing them back within 9 with less than 5 minutes to go. Following a Dallas timeout, Doncic hit a lay up, and Dorian Finney-Smith came up with a steal and led a one man fast break for an and-one finish that helped put New Orleans away. Dallas held up against the late Pelican rally and won 125-118

Now, some additional thoughts:

The rotation is set

Despite having just added Dinwiddie and Bertans at the deadline, their roles seem clearly defined and seem to suit both of them as well as the team. The size that Dinwiddie provides combined with both Powell and Kleber’s ability to play the four and five, makes this group extremely versatile. The back court depth allows Coach Kidd to have multiple ballhandlers on the floor at once. Kleber has been playing incredibly well off the bench, logging 19 points, 4 rebounds, and 1 block tonight. Dallas has lots of options and flexibility in terms of lineup construction. I am waiting to see what a small ball lineup with Dorian Finney-Smith at the five looks like in a larger sample size. The return of Bullock and Marquese Chriss will give Kidd even more tools to work with.

Josh Green, Swiss army knife

Kidd continues to use Green in a Terrance Mann-Bruce Brown role which might be perfect for his play style. Green is a better playmaker than both of those guys but isn’t as strong of a shooter. His movement on the offensive end as a cutter has been an underrated and impactful aspect of his game. Maxi Kleber’s improved play at the five and Green’s ability to play the four in the afformentioned role allows for this group to maintain their high-level defensive while providing Kidd with lots of versatility to work with.

The offense continues to impress

While a majority of Dallas’ offensive success can be attributed to a Slovenian triple-double machine, everybody deserves credit for their continued high-level play. The Mavericks shot 53.7 percent from the field and 47.5 percent (40 attempts) from three in tonight’s matchup. The additions of Dinwiddie and Bertans have proven to be good ones so far with the extra playmaking and floor spacing. In the playoffs, the floor shrinks and the importance of being able to knock down shots becomes amplified. These last 25 games will be enough time for these guys to gel, figure out exactly how they want the offense to operate, and be ready to go come playoff time.

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.