The game couldn't have started any slower and Dallas any colder. The Mavericks made just TWO field goals (2-17) in the 1st quarter. However, they did convert 12 free throws as both teams were called for 8 fouls each. Meanwhile, the Pelicans didn't fare much better as they knocked in 6 field goals and 9 free throws and thus found themselves up only 5, 22-17.
The 2nd quarter saw more of the same, as the fouls and trips to the charity line continued. Both teams combined for a total of 29 fouls and 40 free throw attempts in the 1st half. Jason Smith logged a whole 5:34 thanks to 3 quick fouls, Greg Stiemsma just over 3 minutes with 2 fouls and 4 other Pelicans went into halftime with at least 2 personals. Oh, and for good measure, Eric Gordon tossed in 4 turnovers (6 total). So, despite the Mavericks shooting 27% from the floor, they held a 5 point advantage at the break, 42-37.
Coming out of halftime, Jennifer Hale of Fox Sports New Orleans commented that Monty Williams was quite happy with the defensive effort in the 1st half. He spoke too soon. The 3rd quarter witnessed an offensive explosion with both teams combining for 82 points! Yep, in twelve minutes of action they bested their combined output for the entire 1st half.
Dirk Nowitzki was the star as he poured in 20 points and the Mavericks hit 6 three's (they were 4-16 in the first half). Eric Gordon lead our charge, chipping in 12, and the Pelicans did most of their damage at the rim getting a number of easy lay-ins.
Down only 84-77 to start the 4th, it still didn't seem realistic that the Pelicans had a chance to walk away with the win. Yet, it turned out, they did, or at the very least, go into overtime. Anthony Davis morphed into the monster we needed, scoring 15 points. But it was the play of the game's most unlikely contributor, Darius Miller, that almost tipped the game in our favor. He ended up doing his best Reggie Miller impression as he hit 3 big shots from the perimeter. His last make turned it into a one possession game, so it didn't matter if the Mavericks continued to convert every free throw they shot (which they did).
With 9 seconds remaining, no timeouts (Monty used them all!?!) and both Smith and Gordon watching from the bench with 6 fouls, the stage was set for...Austin Rivers?
Alas, it probably went as many would expect. He casually brought the ball up the court and suddenly we saw the old familiar deer-in-headlights look. A quick pick-and-roll with Anthony Davis failed to create anything meaningful and he was forced to put up a horrible attempt with Monta Ellis draped all over him.
BUT, when I say draped, I literally mean it. Ellis basically checked Rivers' wrist to see if he was wearing a Rolex or some other fancy timepiece. And the replay confirmed it. But the referees, much like with Kevin Love several weeks ago, went impotent with the whistle.
What undoubtedly should have amounted to free throws, ended as another sour loss, thanks to a badly timed missed call. Do I think Rivers would have made all his attempts? Or that the referees would have even called a 3-shot foul? That's not the point. It just would have been fun to see Rivers get a fair shake. Tonight, the Pelicans deserved it.
- Anthony Davis didn't register a block or steal tonight but his 28 points and 14 rebounds were huge. He was flying around the rim and it felt like he just might grab and put back every missed shot by his teammates.
- Al-Farouq Aminu had a very good effort posting 15 points, 11 rebounds and 2 assists. It's becoming more commonplace that he's flashing the growth in his game. He splashed another long 2 but it was his catch and quick drive against Jose Calderon that exemplified his offensive improvement.
- Darius Miller got a nice opportunity tonight with Tyreke Evans missing the game to a sore ankle and he took full advantage. The former Wildcat gave the Pelicans some much needed perimeter shooting and he resembled the guy we last saw in the Las Vegas Summer League -- a possible future 3-D player.
- Eric Gordon's shot was working again tonight to the tune of 20 points on 7-14 from the field and 3-6 from behind the arc. However, his 8 turnovers cut deep but none topped his pass in the first half that sailed well up into the crowd. The intended Pelican didn't even make an effort to catch it -- it was that off target.
- Brian Roberts started at PG again and it was just more meh. Despite the 8 assists, his 2-10 from the floor sticks out. If he's not putting the ball through the hoop effectively, he's a liability on both ends of the floor.
- Austin Rivers didn't execute well on the final possession and had a bad turnover a few minutes earlier, but overall his impact was a positive one. After starting 0-5 from the field, he converted his next 3 attempts in rapid succession, including a three. His defense was solid and, in general, the balance he provided between ball movement and creating off the dribble was a welcome sight.
- Jason Smith got the start tonight and had his moments, adding 10 points and 7 rebounds, but foul trouble plagued his entire night.
- The Mavericks edged out the Pelicans 45-31 from the line and reflecting back, it made the difference. For the most part, the referees aren't to blame, but I still wonder about one foul Smith was whistled for on an Ellis drive and, most certainly, Rivers final attempt that shouldn't have been missed.
- Rick Carlisle continued to make good use of his timeouts, especially the plays coming out of them. Although the Mavericks didn't score points on all of these possessions, their execution was always flawless.
- After the game, Monty Williams wasn't happy about the referees failing to call a foul on Ellis in the waning moments:
"That's just too bad," Williams said. "That's just not right. If we stopped it with .5 on the clock, Monta Ellis' arm is across Austin's -- both of his arms for a 3-point shot. It's hard to swallow that kind of no-call in a game like that, especially when Dirk [Nowitzki] gets the same call on the right side in the first half.