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Game Preview: Can the Pelicans Win Three in a Row? Ever?

New Orleans is on a two game winning streak. In order to make it three, they must find a way to beat the Dallas Mavericks. Good luck!

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

This season the Pelicans have put together two game winning streaks just four times. Their attempts for the third consecutive victory have all come against contending teams. A 118-111 loss in Cleveland where the Cavs went berserk in the third and fourth quarters. A 102-93 loss in Portland when the offense simply shutdown in the fourth quarter after controlling the game for the first three. A 112-107 loss in Dallas against these Mavericks. Finally, a sloppy, horrendous blowout at home against the Trailblazers.

Once again the Pelicans have won two games in a row. Of course they would get a rested an healthy Dallas Mavericks team to try for number three. This is the Western Conference. There are no easy roads to contending for the playoffs.

Looking Back, Planning for the Future

These teams have played twice already this season. Dallas won in New Orleans 109-104 on November 1st in a competitive game throughout. While the Pelicans led going into the fourth quarter the veteran Mavs slowly squeezed away the victory like a boa constrictor. Tyreke Evans nearly had a triple double with 22 points, 10 rebounds, and 9 assists. Anthony Davis was superb going for 31 points and 15 rebounds. Dallas outscored the Pelicans 62-46 in the paint including going a ridiculous 9-11 when Ryan Anderson was defending the rim.

December 10th was again competitive throughout, but an open Ryan Anderson 3-point attempt with five seconds remaining to tie rimmed out giving Dallas the 112-107 win after free throws from Richard Jefferson iced the game. Points in the paint were more even; just a 46-44 edge to the Mavs. Monta Ellis had it all, scoring 13 consecutive points in the fourth quarter in the final five minutes. NOLA was led by Anthony Davis (31 points, 11 rebounds) and Jrue Holiday (30 points, 10 assists). Ryan Anderson (13 points) was the only other Pelican in double digits.

Keys to Victory

Four Quarters: New Orleans has outscored Dallas 167-163 in the first three quarters through two games. They have been outscored in the fourth quarter 58-44. The Mavericks are a veteran laden team with one of the best coaches in the NBA. No lead is ever safe until the final horn sounds.

Defend the Rim: The Mavericks have shot 67.6% (50-74) within eight feet of the basket in their two wins. No one has been victimized more than Ryan Anderson; Dallas has shot 13-16 at the rim with Anderson "protecting" the paint. While alley-oop virtuoso Brandan Wright now suits up for the Phoenix Suns the combination of Tyson Chandler and new addition Rajon Rondo will attack the basket.

Anthony Davis does not fair much better, whom the Mavs are shooting 7-10 against at the rim. More concerning than the 70% conversion rate is that in 82 minutes Davis has been at the rim for just 10 shots. Dirk Nowitzki is the most dangerous shooting big man on the planet. Layups are still a higher percentage play for the Mavs, especially if no one is rotating to the basket.

Pound the Glass: New Orleans has won both the rebounding battle and scored more second chance points in each contest. With Al-Farouq Aminu largely out of the rotation in Dallas the Mavericks only plus rebounder is Tyson Chandler. It should come as no surprise that Dallas is 28th in defensive rebound rate while the Pelicans are 6th in offensive rebound rate.

Be sure to check out Mavs Moneyball for their perspective. After a loss to the Chicago Bulls expect Dallas to be supremely focused on avoiding their own losing streak.

What: Pelicans vs Mavericks

Where: The Smoothie King Center

When: January 25th, 5:00 PM

How: Fox Sports New Orleans, League Pass