The Dallas Mavericks defeated the New Orleans Pelicans Sunday night, winning 136-124 in New Orleans. The win lifts the Mavericks to 8-2, while the Pelicans fall to 4-6. The teams will match up again on Tuesday night in the Mavericks’ third In-Season Tournament game.
The two teams traded the lead a few times in the first quarter. The Pelicans struggled to find a rhythm on offense, and the Mavericks missed some open shots. But eventually, led by Irving’s 11 points and three assists, Dallas pulled ahead by seven at the close of the quarter.
The Mavericks cruised in the second quarter, not exactly scorching on offense but not finding much resistance from the Pelicans. New Orleans, meanwhile, couldn’t get any traction on the offensive end, stumbling time and time again. At halftime, the Mavericks led 67-54.
The third quarter was just more of the same, with the Mavericks passing one hundred points with more than three minutes left in the quarter. The fourth quarter didn’t matter much beyond mop up duty for the benches and Olivier-Maxence Prosper scoring his first basket in the NBA.
Kyrie Irving led all scorers with 35 points, and he dished out seven assists. Luka Doncic put up 30 points, and just missed a double-double, handing out nine assists. Brandon Ingram led the Pelicans with 20 points.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
Kyrie Irving finds his rhythm
Irving hasn’t exactly struggled this year, but he just hasn’t looked like himself. He’s often been passive, drifting a bit on the court. It probably has to do with his limited time in the preseason and the foot injury at the beginning of the year.
Tonight, he broke out of that in a big way, scoring 35 points. He shot a scorching 7-of-10 from deep, and 13-of-20 from the field. But beyond that, it was encouraging to see him attack aggressively and creatively. He got to the rim and pulled the trigger on shots he was passing up earlier in the year. The Mavericks offense was already blazing with Irving just being solid. If he heats up, they may start averaging 150 points per game.
The Mavericks fixed their points in the paint issues, at least for one night
Dallas has been getting crushed in the paint this year, especially the last week or so. Not tonight. They held their own in the lane, bullying the Pelicans with a 54-48 advantage on points in the paint. It’s kind of surprising, considering the Pelicans have bruisers like Zion Williamson and Jonas Valanciunas and the lengthy Brandon Ingram. It didn’t matter tonight. The Mavericks were more aggressive and walled off the rim on the defensive end. They’ll need to do the same on Tuesday.
Dallas is a fast break monster now?
Long one of the slowest teams in the league, the Mavericks have decided to pick up the pace this year. The season is almost a month old, so it’s looking like this might be for real and not just opponent dependent. The Mavericks outscored the Pelicans 28-13 on fast break points, which helped lead to the blowout win — it was actually worse before the Mavericks took their foot off the gas in the fourth quarter. Dallas led in fast break points 26-2 at the end of the third.
In the past, Doncic has had to struggle to manufacture points in grinding possessions that often leave him exhausted. I’ve been begging for the Mavericks to run more since Doncic arrived in Dallas. It just makes sense to take advantage of Doncic’s elite passing ability in the chaos of transition. Hopefully, the trend continues all year.
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