Dallas Mavericks’ road struggles continue in loss to Pelicans
By Sean Bush
The New Orleans Pelicans downed the Dallas Mavericks 132-106 to drop the Mavericks to a 2-9 road record.
The first quarter was a pretty evenly matched period where both teams were clicking on offense. Luka Doncic had the offense rolling and Dorian Finney-Smith scored 8 points in the first 7 minutes of the game. The Pelicans led the Mavericks by only a point, 32-31, after the opening 12 minutes of the game.
The story of the game is all in the 2nd quarter where the New Orleans Pelicans outscored the Dallas Mavericks 37-22. The Mavericks found themselves with a lid on the basket as they missed jumper after jumper. The starters struggled to build any chemistry together and the Mavericks super-bench did not look so super.
The team just looked tired—this is to be expected on the second night of a back-to-back. The energy did not seem to be there like it was in their fiery win against Portland the night before.
Meanwhile, Julius Randle looked like he was back at Prestonwood Christian Academy dominating DFW private high school kids again. Randle posted 22 points and 9 rebounds in the first half, all while only missing two shots from the field.
The Pelicans shot a scorching 60.9% in the first half compared to Dallas’ less than spectacular 40.0%. Heading into the break, the Mavericks trailed 69-53.
Things only got worse for the Dallas Mavericks in the 3rd quarter. Wes Matthews came out of the gate hot scoring 7 points, but the Pelicans still held a major lead throughout the first half of the period.
With 5:45 left in the quarter, Anthony Davis rolled his ankle after stepping on Dorian Finney-Smith’s foot going for a rebound. He would later return to the game after sitting for the rest of the quarter. The Mavericks were down 17 points at that point and the rest of the quarter was more of the same.
As the game wore on, the team continued to look exhausted—coming up short on jumpers and struggling to navigate screens on the defensive end. The Pelicans continued their strategy of never missing any shots and the Mavs entered the 4th quarter trailing 97-80.
The 4th quarter was mostly uneventful. The Pelicans had built up such a large lead that there was not much Dallas could do to get back in the game. New Orleans continued to extend their lead until they eventually picked up the 26-point win.
The team could have really used Dennis Smith Jr.’s energy on both ends of the court tonight. His improved defense has been essential to the Maverick’s recent run of success.
Julius Randle (27 points, 18 rebounds) and Anthony Davis (27points, 9 assists, 5 blocks) both looked unstoppable at times and E’Twaun Moore (17 points) provided an excellent spark off the bench. For the Mavericks, Harrison Barnes (16 points) and Wesley Matthews (15 points) led the way in scoring.
Nobody played a particularly great game but rookie guard Jalen Brunson did have a nice showing for that second unit. His savvy and comfort running the offense is pretty special for someone in just his 20th game of his career. He’s currently a bit buried in the rotation behind the glut of guards on this roster, but he has certainly made the most of his opportunities so far.
It was pretty evident that the biggest reason the Mavericks lost this game was because they were coming off the second night of a back-to-back. Dallas is going to have to quickly learn how to play better in those situations because they have three more back-to-backs in the month of December.
Looking ahead, the Mavericks start a three game home-stand Saturday against the Houston Rockets. It’ll be an important game to win to get the team back on track and focused on staying in the playoff hunt.