Davis and Holiday Push Pelicans Past Mavericks 105-98


After a rough start to the season was capped by a brutal loss to the Clippers at the end of the calendar year of 2015, the Pelicans wanted to start 2016 strong against their division rival Dallas Mavericks.

And that is just what they did, taking the game 105-98.

Every single player that Alvin Gentry sent out on the floor tonight came out with their motor running, ready to go the extra mile to get the job done.

It was a job well done.

Jan 2, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) shoots over Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) and center JaVale McGee (11) during the second half at the American Airlines Center. The Pelicans defeat the Mavericks 105-98. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Pelicans (11-22) came out of the gate strong against the Mavericks (19-15) in their attempt to win a game in Dallas for the first time since January 6th, 2013, a game Eric Gordon sealed in the waning seconds of overtime with a three point play.

It was hard not to remember this play when Gordon converted on two and-one plays tonight right out of the gate, one on a take to the basket and another on a tough jump shot off the glass.

Those 6 points helped his team get off on the right foot, and his remaining 5 came right before halftime and put the Pels up 48-47. He likes to score his points in bunches, but they all count the same as far as the scoreboard is concerned.

Gordon finished the game with 16 points and a team-high plus-minus of +14.

The game remained close early in the third, and Dallas was able to take a 51-50 lead about three minutes into the third quarter.

That would turn out to be their last lead of the entire game, but they certainly did not go away until the clock struck zero.

The Pelicans would outscore the Mavs 22-9 over the next eight minutes to take a 72-60 lead, the largest of the game for either team.

Whether it was fighting for loose balls, closing gaps to contest jump shots, or coming up with rebounds (a battle the Pelicans won convincingly 53-33), a pep in the step of this roster in the New Year was blindingly apparent in this one.

Jan 2, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday (11) leaps for the loose ball during the second half against the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center. The Mavericks defeat the Pelicans 105-98. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

After watching a team that lacked that kind of intensity for more than 30 games, plays like Ryan Anderson flying into the paint to get his own rebound off of a three point miss had me giddy all night long.

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Naturally, the Mavericks sliced right into their double digit deficit, scoring 6 points in the final 37 seconds of the period to cut the lead to 8.

All was quiet for the most part from behind the three point line heading into the fourth quarter: both teams had combined for only 8 makes.

That number doubled in the fourth, where Dallas hit 5 (of their total of 10) and New Orleans hit 3 (of their 6), playing a big part in the runs of both teams in the quarter.

Both sides stumbled at the start of the fourth, but it was Dallas that first found their footing. In the first 6 minutes they outscored the Pels 16-8 and tied the game at 82 apiece.

Anthony Davis, who finished with a game-high 31 points, was responsible for 7 of those 8 points, keeping his team afloat as they tried to stay in the game.

Turnovers did not make this easy. 3 giveaways led to 6 points in those 6 minutes alone, and a grand total of 21 on 19 giveaways.

Jan 2, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) shoots over New Orleans Pelicans forward Ryan Anderson (33) during the second half at the American Airlines Center. The Pelicans defeat the Mavericks 105-98. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

It was nice to see the ball zipping around the court, but the careless mistakes need to be reeled in, especially against the better teams in the league.

From that point on the Pelicans did a good enough job on defense, but were absolutely stellar on offense. They scored at least 2 points on 10 of their final 13 possessions, outscoring Dallas 23-16 the rest of the way to ultimately come out ahead 105-98.

Strong guard play was even more imperative than usual for the Pels tonight, as Tyreke Evans was a late scratch due to tendinitis in his right knee:

They got exactly what the doctor ordered.

Norris Cole stepped into the starting lineup for the ailing Evans and delivered with his first double-double of the season, going for 16 points and a career high 12 rebounds.

He has averaged 16 points on 48% shooting in three straight games of over 30 minutes on the floor. The departure of Ish Smith opened up a few more minutes, and Cole has taken advantage of each one so far.

Jan 2, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday (11) drives to the basket against the Dallas Mavericks during the second half at the American Airlines Center. The Pelicans defeat the Mavericks 105-98. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

With Evans out and the minutes restriction of 2015 supposedly behind him, it appeared that Jrue Holiday would jump back into the starting lineup. However, he came off the bench and produced in a big way again nonetheless.

In 30 minutes on the floor, Holiday tallied 20 points and 5 assists on a clean 8-14 shooting. He is absolutely a starting-caliber point guard in the NBA, but the flow he has been able to sustain off of the bench should not be tampered with.

In the ten games he has played since sitting out of one last second half of a double header, Holiday has shot 49% from the field and 43% from the three point line en route to 15 points and 4 assists per game.

As long as Alvin Gentry can find the right amount of minutes for him to get on the floor, Holiday should continue to come off the bench as he has been doing.

A tough road win against the division rival Dallas Mavericks is only the fourth all season for the Pelicans.

But, they are undefeated in 2016 (1-0)!

They will look to keep that flawless record intact this Wednesday night: when they play host to those very same Mavericks in NOLA at the Smoothie King Center (7 P.M. CST)….