The Dallas Mavericks defeated the New Orleans Pelicans Thursday night in Dallas, winning 111-106. The Mavericks came out on fire early and never let up until Luka Doncic suffered a heel injury in the third quarter. The Pelicans, weary from numerous travel delays caused by the recent winter storm, struggled to hit any shots and looked slow overall.
The Mavericks faced little resistance in the first half, opening with 40 points in the first quarter and putting up 70 points total before halftime. The Mavericks shot the lights out from deep, going 8-of-17 on threes. The Pelicans couldn’t hit anything, going 1-of-10 from behind the arc.
The second half was more of the same. The Mavericks continued to put pressure on the Pelicans, attacking New Orleans on defense and shooting lights out all game. The Pelicans grinded away at the lead in the second half, and even got the Mavericks’ lead down to single digits late in the fourth, getting as close as four points with less than twenty seconds remaining. But ultimately, they couldn’t hit enough shots to complete the come back, and the Mavericks held on for the win.
Luka Doncic led all scorers with 31 points, despite exiting early with a heel injury. He also dished out four assists and grabbed eight rebounds. Spencer Dinwiddie chipped in 21 points. Brandon Ingram led the Pelicans with 26 points.
Here are three things from the game:
The Mavericks crushed a struggling team — until Luka Doncic exited
One of the biggest reasons the Mavericks’ season has been such a let down is the fact they’ve often struggled against lottery-bound teams and teams missing their best players. The Pelicans were only without Zion Williamson tonight, but had lost nine straight games coming into tonight. Combine that with the fact they only arrived in Dallas hours before the game, the Mavericks were looking at what amounted to a scheduled win.
But they’ve faced similar situations this season, and lost. They’ve dropped games to the shorthanded Denver Nuggets and these same Pelicans. They’ve lost to the Houston Rockets and Detroit Pistons, who are competing for the number one pick this summer. So there’s always doubt when the Mavericks face these situations. Tonight, they erased all doubt by the second quarter, and it was such a relief.
Then Doncic left the game with a heel injury. The Mavericks couldn’t find their rhythm without their superstar. The only thing that saved them was the enormous lead they’d already built.
Dwight Powell came up huge in the paint
The Mavericks’ big man rotation is in shambles, but of course, the one constant remains — Dwight Powell. With only Powell, JaVale McGee, and Davis Bertans available (new signing Chris Silva is only here for emergencies), it wouldn’t have been surprising to see Jonas Valanciunas have a big game.
And he did fine, scoring 16 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. But Powell made him earn every one of them. He was absolutely outmatched by the large Lithuanian, but in true Dwight Powell fashion, gave it his all and didn’t let Valanciunas wreak havoc at the rim. In fact, the Pelicans eventually went away from Valanciunas later in the game. Sure, he fouled out, but it was a valiant effort.
The Mavericks have to figure out a way to get more shots at the rim
The Pelicans were exhausted and mentally in a bad place, yet were able to attack the rim at a greater rate than the Mavericks. They had 30 shots at the rim, compared to 15 for the Mavericks. The 3-pointers fell tonight for Dallas, but too many times this season they haven’t. Their inability to get high percentage shots close to the basket often causes them to struggle against inferior teams. The only thing that saves them is absolutely cooking from deep, like they did tonight. Jason Kidd and the coaching staff have to fix it before the playoffs.
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