After a convincing victory against the Utah Jazz on Thursday night, the Dallas Mavericks (2-1) jumped out to the same dominance against the New Orleans Pelicans (1-1) in the first half of Saturday’s contest.
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The Mavs dominated the first half jumping out to a 66-52 lead by halftime and leading, at one point, by as much as 17 points. Coming out of halftime, the Mavs channeled their historical DNA with an abysmal third quarter as the Pelicans outscored Dallas by 17 points. Staving off losing a game after losing a big lead, the Mavs buckled down in the fourth and held on for a 109-104 victory.
Chandler Parsons, impressive throughout but especially in the first half, finished with 20 points in 33 minutes on 7 of 13 shooting. Despite falling into early second half foul trouble by picking up his fourth personal foul with 7:24 left in the third quarter, Dirk Nowitzki managed to come back in the fourth with a clutch shot to seal the victory. Nowitzki finished with 17 points in 29 minutes on 8 of 19 shooting. However, the Big German could never find the distance contributing to the Mavericks 24% 3-point shooting by going 0 of 5 from beyond the arc. ‘Too Much” Monta chipped in 17 points & 7 boards on 7 of 14 shooting while Tyson Chandler put up 11 & 7 on 5 of 7 shooting. In his first road start since being re-signed, JJ Barea continued to be efficient off-the-bench contributing 8 points and 3 assists on 4 of 7 shooting.
1.) The Mavs Historical DNA is still here & still UGLY.
After jumping out the the early lead, the Mavericks fell back to their old ways. The team came out of the half flat, lacking intensity and passion, giving back the lead in the third quarter. Throughout the past seasons, the Mavericks have become synonymous with being a first half team AND with blowing big leads. Big ROAD leads. This was the biggest story of tonight’s game as Tyreke Evans put on a clinic and led the Pelicans to 62% shooting in the third.
2.) Drives are good, jump shots … not so much.
The first half highlight reel consisted of multiple alley-oops from guards to Tyson Chandler & Brandan Wright. It was pick your poison in the first half. Drive and kick or drive and finish. The Mavs were firing on all cylinders using the dribble drive to set-up multiple options on offense. In the second half, the Mavericks continued to settle for pull-up jumpers that resulted in long rebounds and transition opportunities for the Pelicans. It culminated in the fourth on a Parsons possession – Omer Asik switched to Parsons and, instead of taking the slower big man to the hole off the dribble, he pulled up for a long range J. Our new slogan is “More Drives, Less J’s.”
3.) 3’s & D
Beyond the arc shooting continues to be an opportunity as the Mavericks struggled in the opener against the Spurs and, again, tonight against the Pelicans going 6 of 25 for 24 percent. Dallas is now shooting 32.8% from 3 for the season. While the percentage doesn’t seem bad, many of the misses are coming on wide open looks.
From the defensive perspective, the team still has some work to do on defensive communication. While there’s no shortage of scoring, the Mavs came into Saturday night 21st in the league in opponent points per game and 27th in the league in defensive efficiency. Those numbers are bound to hover in the same levels after tonight’s performance.
The Pelicans are widely considered the most improved team in the league and ended up giving the Mavericks a run for their money. If nothing else, it shows the West is truly wild and teams have a chance to contest night in and night out. Tonight’s W will be a great building block for the Mavericks testing their resiliency to overcome obstacles (the third quarter blown lead) and providing them a quality in-conference win.
The Mavericks travel home for their 7:30 PM CST, Monday contest against the Boston Celtics.