The Dallas Mavericks narrowly avoided an embarrassing defeat, holding off the New Orleans Pelicans 111-106 Thursday night in Dallas.
It was a weird game for a multitude of reasons, first being due to inclement winter weather in Dallas this week, the Pelicans didn’t arrive in Dallas until Thursday afternoon. That surely played into the extremely slow start to the game for New Orleans, but they certainly closed as strong as they could have.
Luka Doncic led all scorers with 31 points before he injured his right heel in the third quarter and Brandon Ingram led New Orleans with 26, almost completing a 31-point comeback.
Let’s get to the stats.
49-27: How much New Orleans outscored Dallas after Doncic left the game
When Luka Doncic left the game with a right heel contusion in the third quarter, the Mavericks lead was 84-27. With under a minute left in the fourth quarter, it was 108-104.
Thankfully the Mavericks had just enough to cross the finish line with a win, but it is frankly unacceptable for a professional basketball team with championship aspirations to become that inept when their best player leaves the floor.
It’s one thing for the Mavericks offense to struggle, but the defense quietly might have been worse. Somehow New Orleans made this giant comeback without making any three pointers. The Pelicans finished 5-of-21 from three. They almost erased a 27-point lead entirely on making shots in the paint. That’s really difficult to do New Orleans was 19-of-30 at the rim and 15-of-24 in the paint but outside the restricted area. The Mavericks have to have more pride in these situations.
7-of-37: Combined shooting from Tim Hardaway Jr. and Spencer Dinwiddie
Listen, every player in the NBA misses shots or goes cold from time to time. While it can be frustrating, it’s just something that happens over the course of a long NBA season. Bad games happen.
What Dinwiddie and Hardaway did against the Pelicans however goes beyond just having a bad shooting night. Those two played basketball like they had lobotomies after Doncic suffered his injury. Not only did they combined to go 7-of-37 from the field, they went a combined 0-of-12 in the fourth quarter.
It was embarrassing. Dinwiddie dribbled the air out of the ball the entire fourth quarter, only to jack up contested step-back jumpers with the shot clock running down. There were possessions where not only did no other Maverick but Dinwiddie touch the ball, but no other Mavericks moved on the floor. No screens, not cutting. Just Dinwiddie dribbling until he took a bad shot. Awful, horrific stuff.
Hardaway was ice cold and also had some nasty decisions to boot. With the Mavericks trying to run clock to preserve the win, he took a three pointer with 14 seconds left on the shot clock with 1:43 left in the game, giving New Orleans continued life. With 38 seconds left he took an awful step-back three pointer that also clanged off the rim.
We all know the Mavericks are a worse team without Doncic, but both Dinwiddie and Hardaway have been able to score buckets outside of this Mavericks ecosystem. This isn’t a case of untalented guys getting a light shone too brightly — this was just a case of two players playing some awful basketball at the worst time. They have to be better than this going forward, especially if Luka misses any time with the heel injury.
7: Points scored by Josh Green in the fourth quarter
The Mavericks third year forward saved this game for Dallas. Green’s seven points were absolutely crucial, and they were almost half the entire team’s total in the fourth (16).
What made Green’s points especially huge was that he made a lot happen out of nothing. Green went 3-of-5 from the floor in the fourth, nailing a huge three pointer and then scoring on two impressive drives to the rim. Both drives were bailout possessions, where Green received the ball with no screen and a set defense. He just put his head down and used his speed and athleticism to get himself to the rim and finish. It was truly great stuff.
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