Pelicans 89 - Mavericks 108

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Davis sustains an injury and the Pelicans flounder.

With 4:13 remaining in the second quarter, Anthony Davis left the game with an apparent shoulder injury to his left shoulder. The relatively innocuous contact led many Pelican fans to believe he would return for the second half, but as the team's fortunes have gone this season, he did not. The diagnosis and some additional information is below.

The injury is again on his left side. Just awful luck with nearly every injury occurring on the left side of his body. Put all that together and we can probably expect that he will miss Friday and likely Saturday as well. The team travels to Phoenix for another game on Friday, also televised on ESPN. I would hazard to guess that ESPN had bigger plans with their full roll out of Davis articles this week than AD logging just 12:37.

The Game

The Pelicans were down just one point, 37-36, when Davis went out of the game. Dallas, predictably, went on a run to end the quarter and headed into halftime up six, 49-43. While ESPN was hunting information on whether Davis would return, I wondered what Monty would do if Davis did not. And then Monty Williams did the unthinkable. With the entire halftime available to him to contemplate what lineup to use to begin the third quarter, Monty Williams decided to start Brian Roberts, Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans, Al-Farouq Aminu, and Greg Stiemsma.

THE UNHOLY TRIO - IT LIVES

I wrote about this on Sunday, but it bears repeating:

"Honestly, grouping these three players together, in any circumstance, should be considered a fireable offense."

Monty Williams, who I am sure has access to simple data which is publicly available, started a lineup which puts up .457 points per possession. He STARTED it. Not foul trouble, not defensive cross matching at the end of a quarter. He STARTED that lineup with over 15 minutes to think about it.  A -65.9 Net Rating and Monty Williams rolled that out to begin the third quarter.

So it shouldn't come as a surprise that the Mavericks extended their lead to eight points in the first three minutes of the second half. Then, an early timeout (WHAT?) and Babbitt replaced Aminu. The lead comes down to seven. Two minutes later Ajinca comes in for Stiemsma. Three minutes after that the lead is down to five. Progress! Going small (Babbitt at PF) and removing the Hindenburg (Stiemsma not only did not score tonight, he did not attempt a shot) at center and suddenly the offense is got into a bit of a rhythm.

Unholy Trio - 7 possessions, 5 points - .714 PPP from 12:00 to 8:21

Babbit @ PF with Evans In - 10 possessions, 14 points - 1.4 PPP from 8:21 to 3:52

Things are rolling (as much as they can) with Babbitt on the floor for 4:29. And just like that, Babbitt is out for Withey. Why? No idea. Thanks to such genius, the Mavericks go on a quick 6-0 run while the Pelicans turn the ball over on two of three possessions. Of note, Monty Williams went big and the Mavericks answered by scoring ALL SIX POINTS IN THE PAINT. Ugh. Then for no apparent reason Darius Miller is discovered in the Lost and Found bin in the back of Monty's dog house with 1:21 to go in the third quarter. Just making this up as we go evidently. Thankfully, going back to small ball held the Mavericks lead at 11 going into the fourth quarter.

And We Don't Care

I do not know how else to qualify the fourth quarter. The ball is flying into the stands. Hubie Brown is warning his broadcast partner to duck outlet passes. Rick Carslie started the fourth quarter with Devin Harris, Wayne Ellington, Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki, and Brendan Wright. The classic a starter (Dirk), a sixth man (Carter) and some decent rotation players thing NBA coaches do. Monty Williams countered this with Austin Rivers, Anthony Morrow, Darius Miller, Luke Babbitt, and Jeff Withey. None of these players projected to be in the top 8 of the Pelicans rotation this season and Williams is rolling them all out together hoping they figure it out against a veteran group looking to close the game out. Shockingly, this did not turn out well for the Pelicans.

Outside of the ball traveling frequently beyond the bounds of the court, we also bear witness to Austin Rivers struggling mightily at the free throw line. The Pelicans, on the whole, shot just 8-19 from the line -- not going to win games that way. New Orleans also committed 21 total turnovers, yet another recipe for disaster. Seven of those turnovers occurred in the fourth quarter alone.

Blaming the Loss?

There are a number of things one could point to and say "that lost the game." The free throw shooting, the turnovers, the highly questionable lineups, Anthony Davis being injured for the entire second half. Yes, I agree as all of it contributed. Pointing out which part was the biggest culprit is a difficult exercise, one without a doubt to be greatly effected by our personal biases against this team in one area or another. And this game had it all.

  • Hate the Austin Rivers lottery pick? He missed five of six free throws.
  • Hate the max contract Eric Gordon is on? He had five turnovers on the night.
  • Hate the Tyreke Evans signing? He went 2-9 from the field including missing a wide open three without a player in the same zip code.
  • Hate Monty's rotations? He trotted out some of his greatest hits tonight.
  • Hate terrible injury luck? Anthony Davis left the game on a injury the film simply cannot explain, and his diagnosis is sure to be of the New Orleans special indefinite variety.
  • Hate that the local beat writers are incompetent? Look at this:

Yup. Pierre Jackson is the answer at Small Forward. At 5'11". Can't. Wait.

Notes

- Tyreke Evans couldn't get his shot to fall tonight, but he still created points. He used 17 total possessions which resulted in 24 points. His seven assists were the product of four three point shots (Rivers, Babbitt, Roberts, Gordon) and three layups/dunks (Gordon, Ajinca x 2). 1.14 Points per Possession is good offense, even when it fails the eye test.

- Eric Gordon's 5 turnovers were of his most unattractive variety. Dribbling into traffic and losing the ball. On 20 possessions he created 23 points. Both of his assists were to Anthony Davis in the first quarter for long twos.

- Brian Roberts had a possession with 4:26 remaining in the fourth quarter that you have to watch. He literally dribbled for 16 seconds, lost the ball out of bounds of the Mavericks, received the inbounds pass, and proceeded to dribble out the remaining 8 seconds. 24 seconds, Roberts dribbling, no passes or shots, turnover. #MontyBall

- Anthony Davis failed to reach double figures for the second time this season. The first was on December 1st in Madison Square Garden when he injured his finger. He was the only Pelican to log a positive +/- on the night.

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