Monta Ellis scored 20 points and grabbed six rebounds and Rajon Rondo scored 19 points as the Dallas Mavericks defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 102-93. The loss snaps New Orleans’ five-game winning streak. In defeat, Eric Gordon finished with 18 points, five rebounds and four assists for the Pelicans.
That was a tough loss. There was a feeling that the Pelicans were going to pull it out with Chandler Parsons and Tyson Chandler out for the Mavericks. The Pelicans played well in the first half, but the Dallas offense was a juggernaut tonight, even at less than 100 percent. The Mavericks shot 48.1% from the floor and 37% from three, but it felt like they shot 80%. Mostly because of Rajon Rondo’s first quarter exploits.
Rondo started out aggressive on the offensive end, scoring 13 points for the Mavericks. He took a couple of ugly mid-range jumpers, but he got to the rim three times and even slapped down a corner three, getting the upper hand on Norris Cole early in the contest.. Between Rondo and Richard Jefferson (3-3 from the floor, 9 points), the Mavericks saw 22 of their 32 points from those two. It was rather funny to see.
At the half, both team were playing well. Monta Ellis did a great job of attacking the rim and finished the first half with 10 points. Amar’e Stoudemire came in, played some terrible defense, but also balanced the poor defense with a couple of good finishes on the offensive end. Along with those two, Devin Harris had seven points, remaining one of the more underrated players in the league (for me personally), doing a good job of getting to the line.
The Pellies were playing well. The backcourt of Eric Gordon and Norris Cole were great early for New Orleans, combining for 26 of the team's 58 points. Cole did a solid job both ways - defending Harris and Rondo well, while excelling in some catch and shoot from beyond the arc. It was great to see him get his jumper back. As for Gordon, his offensive production was great, hitting threes, but also mixing it up with some aggressive attacks at the basket, getting to the free throw line.
Also, the Pelicans were shooting 53.7% at the half, while the Mavericks were shooting 55.0%.
In the third quarter, the Pelicans hit a snag on the offensive end, and ultimately, their third quarter struggle as the difference in the final score. Outside of Norris Cole, New Orleans couldn’t hit anything, finishing with 13 points. Eric Gordon and Quincy Pondexter were a combined 0-7 from the floor and Tyreke Evans, oddly, took just three shots in the quarter. With the offense flailing, I was a bit surprise to see Evans go into that attack mode and get to the line.
Dirk Nowitzki got five points and six rebounds, hitting a couple jumpers and grabbing the attention offensively. Richard Jefferson, once again, rewound the clock. Seven points in the third quarter, leading all Dallas scores. From there, it was a solid team effort from the Mavericks. Rondo and Ellis tailed off, Amar’e hit a couple shots, and Devin Harris continued to get to the line, drawing four free throw attempts.
The fourth quarter was too little, too late for New Orleans. Tyreke Evans turned on with six points, three assists and an impressive and funny jumper to get him out of his funk. Dante Cunningham finished with eight points, after not doing much earlier in the game. Still, the Pellies couldn’t stop Dallas’ offensive attack and a Dirk Nowitzki three ball with two minutes left in the game proved to be the dagger, ending the team's five-game winning streak.
Let’s get to some notes
- Eric Gordon didn’t shoot well, but 18 point, five rebounds and four assists. The Pelicans needed a better performance than that, but he hit four threes and got to the line six times. Maybe next time, the jumpers will fall.
- Disappointed in Omer Asik. Two points and seven rebounds against who? With no Chandler, I wished Asik proved to be a bit more aggressive out there. Maybe a double-digit scoring game or something. After a good, really good, performance against Denver, it was another twist and turn for Omer.
- Norris Cole. Norris Cole! He played well on both sides of the ball. He bothered Dallas wings on the defensive end and found his stroke from beyond the arc on the offensive end. Some of this threes were just in the groove dribble threes, but I find him more effective on the catch and shoot.
- 17 points and seven assists for Tyreke Evans in a game where I couldn’t remember a single play he made. Again, I wish he took over in that third quarter. I’m normally not a fan of the Evans isolation, but in that scenario, I would’ve locked for Evans to initiate some pick and rolls and force that Dallas defense to stop him.
- Alexis Ajinca with the double-double. 13 points, 12 rebounds and one block. His offensive game isn’t anything special, but I loved the little turnaround jumper he pulled out on a couple offensive possessions. He didn’t do much defensively, but he also didn’t let Amar’e Stoudemire bully him into calls either. In light of the AD/Anderson injuries, Ajinca has stepped up.
- Last one - That Mavericks bench is something I want to see the Pelicans emulate in the offseason. Dallas has so many decent players on the bench, while New Orleans is still toiling with guys like (no offense) Luke Babbitt and Jimmer Fredette. Maybe those guys are Pondexter and Cole, but I say: bring back Ajinca and Cole, add a wing who can do some nice things off the bench and let’s see what happens.