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Dallas Squeezes Out Win Over Pelicans

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New Orleans dug out of a first half hole, then were out executed in the closing minutes

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Davis and company came into the fourth quarter up three points after clawing back. The machine Rick Carlisle runs finally fired back up after malfunctioning at halftime and the veteran team ground out a 109-104 win. Dallas outscored the Pels 17-10 in the final nine minutes of the game.

After the under nine minute official timeout Dallas repeatedly attacked a specific Pelican weakness. The Mavericks got the ball on the left wing and set a screen to get the ball handler back into the middle. Throughout the night New Orleans elected to hedge hard on these screens, placing Anthony Davis 30 feet from the basket. Dirk Nowitzki slipped the first screen, J.J. Barea got him the ball quickly, and the chaos of rotations resulted in a difficult Brenden Wright layup. Each of the next six half court possessions began with the Mavericks setting up a left to right PnR from the left wing.

New Orleans made just two field goals in the final ten minutes of the game. It would be fun to blame this all on the defense; it just would not be accurate. Yes, Dallas shot nearly 52% from the field despite missing a number of open looks. But this game is different without long cold spells by the Pelicans. Two field goals in ten minutes is not going to win many basketball games. Especially when those ten minutes are the last ten.

Anthony Davis did have plenty of help from his teammates tonight. Tyreke Evans nearly had a triple double with 22 points, 10 rebounds, and 9 assists. Jrue Holiday was also productive, pouring in 24 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds. Tyreke completely took over the third quarter and nearly outdid the Mavericks by himself. At one point Evans knocked down back-to-back threes. His form looked better when he was shooting with his feet set before the catch. Off the bounce Tyreke's jumper looked much like last year's version.

Anthony Davis put up another absurd stat line - 31 points, 15 rebounds, 3 blocks, 2 steals, and just 1 turnover. He got to the line (13-16 FTs) and attacked the basket off the catch rather than settling for long twos. He played solid defense on Dirk tonight, but the fouls he drew were the big story. When Dirk went to the bench with his fourth foul is when New Orleans went on a big run in the third quarter. Dirk checked out and the Mavs were up 72-63. When he re-entered New Orleans was up 83-80.

This was my favorite play of the night

Eric Gordon provided nothing, scoring zero points on six shot attempts to go with four turnovers. Monty Williams played nine guys in the first half but shortened the bench to just seven for the second. Only Ryan Anderson and Austin Rivers got playing time among the reserves after the half. John Salmons and Jimmer Fredette joined Gordon in the scoreless column.

The most egregious play occurred in the second quarter when New Orleans decided John Salmons had earned an isolation post up on the left high post. It resulted in an ugly challenged fadeaway jumper. The shot, unsurprisingly, did not go in.

Notes:

  • Aminu was invisible on his return to New Orleans. A quiet 2 points and 5 rebounds in just 16 minutes. His ill-advised quick jump shot in the fourth quarter got him the quick hook from Carlisle.
  • Monty responded to Aminu playing the SF by going big with Anderson, Davis, and Asik.
  • The Pelicans did not try to go two-for-one to end the first quarter and third quarter. In a five point game the team just elected to shave off two potential possessions. Dallas scored to end both quarters.
  • First half was just ugly. Pelicans could not get good looks and even Dallas misses were high quality possessions.
  • Digging out of a big deficit is exhausting work. New Orleans won the third quarter 37-20. Only scored 15 in the final frame.
  • The rise of the hard hedge was obvious whenever Dirk was the screener. The on-ball defender was not even attempting to force the ball baseline, electing to just smush into the screen. Would love to see ICE on side PnRs, with the big dropping back and the defender forcing the ball away from the screen instead.
  • Despite the ineffectiveness of this hedge (seriously, on multiple occasions Anthony Davis was screening his fellow Pelicans) there was no adjustment by New Orleans. It was not surprising to see Rick Carlisle and the Mavericks attack it repeatedly to close the game out.
  • Jimmer Fredette recorded a four trillion, putting up zero stats in four minutes of work.
  • Salmons did Fredette two better, missing both field goal attempts in just five minutes of work.

Pelicans have Sunday off and a quick out-and-back road game at Memphis on Monday. Let's here your thoughts in the comments.

Check out the Mavs Moneyball recap as well for their opinion.