The New Orleans Pelicans disappointed massively tonight. Despite 36 points and 13 rebounds from Anthony Davis, they lost to the Dirk-less Mavericks and could barely keep it close.
The Pelicans had no excuse tonight.
The Mavericks might be the worst team in the entire league, and the Pelicans couldn’t be bothered to put forth the effort to close this one out the right way.
Coming into the game with a 2-14 record, the Mavericks were basically set to tank this season away and yet they somehow managed to out-hustle almost the entire Pelicans roster.
The Mavericks battled and fought while Dirk Nowitzki watched from the bench in a suit. Slowing the game down, they managed to make the Pelicans uncomfortable. The Pelicans were forced to adapt, and they ultimately couldn’t handle the task.
Frazier, Jrue, Buddy, Moore, and AD all love to get out on the break. AD loves soaring for wild alley-oops, and the rest of our guards love throwing them to him.
Tonight, the Mavericks focused on slowing down the pace and grinding out their points. They took the wind out the Pelicans’ sails, and forced them into unfamiliar territory.
Nov 27, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Justin Anderson (1) dribbles the ball around New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Brown (21) during the second half at the American Airlines Center. The Mavericks defeat the Pelicans 91-81. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
The end of the third quarter had both teams tied at just 60 points. This was an ugly, inefficient, mess of a game that ended with a few incredible hustle plays from the Mavericks that ultimately won them the game.
Right up until the end, both teams were just trading buckets. Both teams failed to consistently hold 4-5 point leads and neither team had any rhythm or confidence.
In the 4th quarter Jrue hit two Curry-esque threes that put the Pelicans up six. With just a few minutes left, the Mavericks rallied to come back and put the game out of reach.
In the final minute, the Pelicans squandered their last chance at a comeback by allowing the Mavericks two straight offensive rebounds.
The Mavericks simply worked harder. This game was a marathon and the Pelicans gave up while Dallas sprinted through the finish line.
This team is still young, and they will have to learn to push themselves in close situations like tonight. It’s up to AD and Jrue to provide the necessary leadership to motivate their peers to fight until the final whistle.
Nov 25, 2016; Portland, OR, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) reacts to a call by referee Scott Foster (48) during the fourth quarter at Moda Center at the Rose Quarter. The Blazers won 119-104. Mandatory Credit: Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports
Still, it’s not all the Pelicans fault. Wes Mathews, shooting 40% from the floor this year, exploded for 21 points on 6/8 shooting from deep. No matter how the Pelicans covered him, he managed to get his shot just barely off and drain them when it mattered.
Barnes wasn’t incredibly efficient, but he put up 23-4-7 while being tightly guarded by Hill most of the game. Anderson had 14 points in 22 minutes, and Bogut had 14 rebounds in just 28.
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The simple fact is that the Mavericks got some great performances from their players tonight, and the Pelicans couldn’t do anything to stop them.
The Pelicans have tomorrow off, before facing the Lakers Tuesday tonight at the Smoothie King Center. The Lakers are a young inexperienced team the Pelicans “should” (key word) handle with ease.
Assuming reasonable health, they have no excuse to lose a third straight to a team as unproven as Los Angeles.
If they bounce back they can put themselves right back into the playoff chase, though a loss might signal last weeks’ success was simply a fluke and they are destined for the lottery. Hopefully they can iron out whatever went wrong tonight……