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Mavericks vs Pelicans Recap: 3 things after Dallas falls to New Orleans 113-106

Dallas loses and Luka gets injured. Great.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at New Orleans Pelicans Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks (34-33) fell to the New Orleans Pelicans (32-34) on the road Wednesday night, 113-106. CJ McCollum scored 32 to lead New Orleans, while Kyrie Irving was the game high scorer for Dallas with 27 points.

On the second night of a back-to-back in a key division game, the Mavericks came out early looking good. With Luka Doncic playing in both games (a rarity this season), it was a sign of how seriously the Mavericks took the game. After jumping out to an early lead though, the offense went cold. Doncic picked up his 15th technical of the season during the quarter. The teams ended the first quarter tied at 24 a piece.

In the next frame, things went sideways for the Mavericks quickly. Dallas scored just eight points in the opening half of the quarter and couldn’t stop the Pelicans. Despite keeping New Orleans within single digits for a good chunk of the period, the Pelicans poured on the offense late and walked into halftime with a 59-43 lead.

It got even uglier for Dallas in the third quarter. Despite finding a way to cut the lead all the way down to eight points, they couldn’t find the defense to chip into the lead further. Doncic left the game with around three minutes left due to a thigh strain and it seemed like the game might be over. New Orleans entered the final frame up 83-65.

And yet the Mavericks weren’t done. A barrage of scoring in the fourth, including contributions from Jaden Hardy, Davis Bertans, and Christian Wood, resulting in the Mavericks trimming the lead all the way down to three points with four minutes remaining. CJ McCollum had something to say about that, though, scoring 13 points in the final four minutes and putting Dallas away for good. The Mavericks fell 113-106.

Now some thoughts:

Mavericks, sowing: Heck Yeah! Yes!

Mavericks, reaping: Well this sucks! What the heck!

Now that the Mavericks are just one game over .500 with many more games to play on the road before the season’s end, I’ll bet Dallas is thinking about some of the many games they gave away. There’s a whole list that could crack double digits if you really get into the weeds. Prior to the trade for Kyrie Irving, Dallas played some baffling basketball with fault that could be assigned to the players, the coaches, and even the front office for assembling the lackluster roster.

Now that they’ve got a new star but less depth, their margin for error is even smaller.

Luka Doncic playing was not wise

It’s easy to say this now. I don’t level it as a criticism insomuch as a statement of fact, well after the fact. It’s frustrating because Dallas likely felt like they had to play him because this would’ve been an important win for tiebreakers and playoff seedings down the line and to pair with my aforementioned point, Dallas gave away a lot of games this season, including more than a few where Doncic sat for purely rest reasons. The Mavericks weren’t good enough for Doncic to rest some of the games he did. Tonight he probably needed it, his thigh injury was something they’d talked about in postgame.

Instead he left the game with an injury and they might have made a bad situation worse, in terms of both his injury and the team’s near future in the standings.

What are we doing with these rotations?

Coaching is hard, but playing Frank Ntilikina and Theo Pinson before getting to the rotation in the fourth which nearly pulled them back into it (Kyrie Irving, Jaden Hardy, Davis Bertans, Christian Wood, and Tim Hardaway Jr.) is an actively bad decision. Frank can’t score. Theo is good at podcasting. While I know Jason Kidd isn’t going anywhere... Kidd has to do a better job with obvious stuff. Dallas can’t afford these mistakes and these losses.

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