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Close but no Cigar: Mavericks 112, Pelicans 107

The Pelicans lost and fell back under .500. The Mavericks won and shot 53 percent from the floor. We briefly review it, as well as go over some other little notes that I've noticed. Let's talk.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 112-107 at the American Airlines Center. The Mavericks had four players score over 20 points, led by Monta Ellis' 26 points and five assists. Devin Harris, Dirk Nowitzki, and Chandler Parsons all finished with 20 points. In defeat, Anthony Davis scored 31 points and grabbed 11 rebounds while Jrue Holiday scored 30 points, dished out 11 assists and got three steals. The Mavericks move to 17-7 while the Pelicans fall to 10-11.

It’s a bit creepy how this game mirrored the Dallas game earlier in the season. The Mavericks took an early lead, the Pelicans fought back to take the lead, and the Mavericks held on for the victory. In some ways, this is a moral victory: The Mavericks are one of the best teams in the Western Conference and the league. Being able to stand toe-to-toe with them for long stretches at a time is a good thing. Not being able to get over that hump? Well, that’s what progression is for moving forward.

The first half was wishy-washy for New Orleans. The Mavericks started off hot on both sides of the ball. Defensively, they forced New Orleans into some terrible shots, led by Tyreke Evans and a few poor finishes by Anthony Davis. The Mavericks got hot, thanks to the trio of Dirk Nowitzki, Monta Ellis, and Devin Harris. The Harris/Ellis combo used their speed to while they turned around and shot percent from the floor, resulting in 25 points.

After scoring just 15 points, the Pelicans score 36 points in the second quarter. The duo of Ryan Anderson and Anthony Davis went off. Davis did a great job at scoring the ball, getting a handful of jumpers and attacking the rim. Anderson did a great job at getting his free throws, including one great play where he forced Al-Farouq Aminu into the air and got a three-point play. It turned a 25-15 deficit into a 51-47 lead going into the third quarter.

The second half was rough for New Orleans. The Pelicans did a good job scoring the basketball (59 points in the second half), but they also allowed 65 points, which is disappointing. Tyson Chandler and Dirk Nowitzki both did a good job offensively, but Devin Harris was the major difference in the third. Harris scored five points in the last 55 seconds of the quarter, giving the Mavericks the lead into the fourth.

On New Orleans’ side, Jrue Holiday did all he could in the third quarter. The Pelicans needed someone to run their offense in the quarter, and Holiday did just that, finishing five assists, and could have finished with more if his teammates completed some shots. Anthony Davis also looked great, too. He hit a couple big jumpers in the quarter in the midst of the tug-of-war for the lead between New Orleans and Dallas.

The fourth quarter turned into the Monta Ellis/Devin Harris show, as again, the two players went nuts for Dallas. The Mavericks finished with 35 points in the quarter, but the two finished with 21 points on 8-11 shooting. On the other side, Jrue Holiday finished the fourth with 14 points and Anthony Davis chipped in with 10 points in the quarter. Outside of those two, the Pelicans were quiet offensively, even finishing the quarter with 52% shooting.

Game Notes:

— Anthony Davis was Anthony Davis. He got 20 shot attempts, he garnered nine free throws, and did a great job offensively, finishing with 31 points and 11 rebounds. He altered a couple shots at the rim, snagged a couple rebounds, and led the charge for New Orleans. Defensively, Davis did a good job against Dirk Nowitzki, but as always, Dirk did well hitting impossible jumpers against him.

— The Pels shot really well from three: 38.9% on 18 attempts. That’s the good. The bad is that most of that three-point success came from Jrue Holiday, who went 5-8 from beyond the arc. The Pelicans REALLY need that extra three point shooter (or two). I recommend the Pelicans looking for that in the same fashion they acquired Cunningham and Mekel. Does this roster really need Jimmer? Salmons has registered two DNP’s in a row. Maybe cutting those two guys and looking in the NBADL for some shooters? Not the worst idea in the world.

— The bench was neutral. Offensively, the players (Rivers, Cunningham, Anderson, ad Mekel) were fine, sans a couple airballs from Rivers and Mekel. Ryan Anderson garnered seven free throws and did well offensively when he was out there. Defensively, the combination was a train wreck. The Davis/Anderson combo was very rough, Mekel and Rivers could not stay in front of people, and with Cunningham out there with Anderson/Davis gave the guards easy access to the middle of the floor.

— Another great game for Jrue against the Mavericks. Holiday finished with 30 points and 10 assists, but it was that third quarter that stood out. As New Orleans attempted to maintain a lead, Holiday did an excellent job running his offense, moving the ball well and finishing with four assists in the quarter. Defensively, though, he was so-so. His defense was strong, but it wasn’t fantastic for the entire game.

— Devin Harris went off for the Mavericks, finishing with 20 points and three assists off the bench for Dallas. The Mavericks used him and Monta Ellis early to attack New Orleans’ guards and pressure them on defense. The Ellis/Harris combination combined for 46 points, eight assists and 5 for 9 from three.

— Really the worst of Luke Babbitt here. Babbitt finished with five points on 2-7 shooting while his counterpart, Chandler Parsons, goes for 20. Credit to Monty for pulling him and giving Dante Cunningham those minutes once he saw that Babbitt was ineffective.

Austin Rivers got 17 minutes. Gal Mekel got nine minutes. Curious to see if and when that flips.