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Injured Mavericks hope to start March right against streaking Pelicans

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Game Preview: New Orleans Pelicans

DALLAS – Tyson Chandler and Chandler Parsons won’t return as the Dallas Mavericks begin March hosting the unibrow-less New Orleans Pelicans, 7:30 pm at the American Airlines Center.

Parsons (ankle) will miss his fifth-straight game while the bigger Chandler (hip) will miss his third. Dirk Nowitzki started at center in the Mavericks’ 104-94 home loss to the Brooklyn Nets Saturday night.

“It’s challenging, but there are challenges every single year. We went through a stretch where Dirk was out. We went through a stretch where Tyson Chandler was out,” Rick Carlisle said. “The important thing is to simplify as much as possible and keep everything moving in the right direction. As long as everybody is working toward one thing, you’ve got a chance.”

“It doesn’t mean you’re going to play well every night either. Because we stunk the other night. In those situations, you’ve got to stay the course. You’ve got to find some positives and you’ve got to flush out the negatives.”

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Nowitzki led the squad with 20 points on 8 of 14 shooting with six boards in 31 minutes. Devin Harris and Al-Farouq Aminu added 14 and 12 while Rajon Rondo came back from a one-game suspension to finish with eight points, seven rebounds and six assists in 28 minutes. Deron Williams, The Colony product, went for a game-high 25 points on 9 of 14 to go along with six boards in 35 minutes.

Dallas (39-22) led 26-23 after one and held a four-point halftime advantage, but the Nets came out with a 35-21 third-quarter effort. Brooklyn went on a 16-7 run in the first before the Mavs countered with an 11-4 run to take a lead into the second. Amar’e Stoudemire led the team with nine first-half points.

“I do believe there’s got to be a balance. I don’t think you can just only post Amar’e up,” Carlisle said. “I think you’ve got to not just pick and pop him either. Because he does have the force on the inside and he can help us get to the free throw line. We’ll work at it. We’ll get the balance right.”

The Nets began the third with a 24-8 run and the Mavericks never seemed able to get back in it.

Dallas rides a two-game skid into tonight, after losing in Atlanta on Wednesday. The Mavericks finished 7-5 in the month of February, having lost by an average of 14.6 points in those losses.

New Orleans (32-27) will go without Anthony Davis (shoulder), Ryan Anderson (MCL) and Jrue Holiday (leg), yet is having its best season in nearly four years. The Pelicans haven’t reached the playoffs since 2011 when they finished with 46 wins. New Orleans sits two games away from tying last season’s total and is a 1/2 game back of Oklahoma City for the final spot out West.

They come to Dallas having won their last five, including a 99-92 victory Sunday in Denver. Tyreke Evans finished with 22 points and seven dimes while Omer Asik grabbed 16 rebounds. After going 1 of 7 from behind the arc through the first three quarters, Eric Gordon knocked down 2 of 3 in the final quarter as the Pelicans outscored Denver 34-27.

The last time the Pelicans won five in a row was March 21-28 of last season. They last won six straight when they won 10 in a row from Jan. 9-26 of the 2010-11 season, last time they reached the postseason.

“They’re extremely well-coached, smart and they don’t beat themselves,” Carlisle said. “Tyreke Evans is playing the best basketball of his career. Their last five games he’s shooting almost 40 from 3 and he’s getting close to 10 assists a game, he’s scoring the ball.”

“Eric Gordon’s playing great. [Alexis] Ajinca is their third-leading scorer the last five games. And they’ve got other guys that know their roles and they don’t beat themselves.”

Dallas is 2-1 against New Orleans this season and 34-12 all time. The Mavericks are 20-2 all time at the AAC, 4-1 in their last five and 9-1 in the last 10 games. The Pelicans come in tonight with a four-game skid in Big D.

New Orleans erased a nine-game skid to Dallas in the last meeting, 109-106 on Jan. 25. In his only game in the season series, Rondo nearly came away with a triple-double of 17 points, eight rebounds and nine dimes.

Dallas won the previous two, 112-107 at home Dec. 10; and 109-104 away on Nov. 1. Carlisle is 26-18 all time against New Orleans.

It’s a blessing that Holiday and Davis are out – Holiday is averaging 27 points, eight assists and three steals in his last two vs Dallas while Davis sits at 30 points, 12 boards, 2.3 steals and two blocks in his last three vs Dallas.

In three games this season with New Orleans, Monta Ellis is averaging a team-high 26.3 points on 56.7 percent shooting. Nowitzki has averaged 20.3 points, but just 14.3 percent from three. Stoudemire 20 points, 5.5 rebounds, three blocks, 63 percent shooting in two games against New Orleans with the New York Knicks.

“It’s a [must] win, no question. We’ve got a hard back-to-back coming up, so we got to take care at home and go from there,” J.J. Barea said.

NOTES: Dallas is 4-3 this season when Parsons doesn’t play (96 points per game, down from season’s average of 105.3)…Mavs are 2-3 when Tyson sits, 5-8 in his Maverick career…Nowitzki needs one 3-pointer tonight to break a tie with Tim Hardaway for 20th in NBA history…The Pelicans are 6-5 this season without Davis

Next: Western Conference Bench Rankings: Where do the Mavericks Stand?

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