The New Orleans Pelicans fell to the Dallas Mavericks 91-81 in an ugly affair featuring putrid shooting and poor execution. Anthony Davis did all anyone could ask by stuffing the stat sheet to the tune of 36 points, 13 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block but his supporting cast simply could not find the range behind the arc. Beyond Jrue Holiday (3-4 from 3-point land) the Pelicans shot an abysmal 2-16 from deep. Holiday was the only other Pelican in double figures and he did much of his damage early in the fourth quarter to extend a New Orleans lead. On the night he finished with 17 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds.
Two solid albeit uneven performances were not enough tonight. Not with everyone else coming up ice cold. Three consecutive threes from Holiday built a 71-65 lead and then the defense completely collapsed. Dallas, who came into tonight as the worst offense in the league according to Basketball Reference, scored on 13 straight possessions to end the fourth quarter. New Orleans did not record a defensive stop for over eight minutes of game time. Against the worst offense in the league.
Over that span Dallas made just one shot within ten feet of the basket, a Seth Curry layup with 7:07 remaining. Andrew Bogut, who came into the game without a make from the free throw line (0-5), made back-to-back free throws after the Pelicans resorting to hacking trailing by six points with under three minutes to go. Harrison Barnes was unstoppable on the right block and Wesley Matthews converted three back breaking 3-point baskets.
After Anthony Davis split a pair of free throws to bring the Pelicans within eight points they needed a stop with 1:24 remaining. Instead, the small ball unit again failed to convert a stop despite multiple opportunities and two offensive rebounds later the Mavs had burned off over 40 seconds off the clock. Seth Curry converted two free throws to put Dallas up ten and give us the final score of 91-81.
Alvin Gentry elected to go small tonight. Omer Asik played just the first seven minutes of the game and Alexis Ajinca finally appeared after his long exile to log four minutes in the second quarter. New Orleans was +4 in their 11 minutes, all thanks to a run by the Pelicans when Ajinca was on the court with the second unit. Despite going small, the game was played at the Mavs preferred pace — slow as molasses. The inability to secure defensive rebounds played a huge part in slowing the game down.
Tonight was ugly and I honestly have difficulty seeing what the coaching staff could have done significantly different when every single role player is ice cold. Players outside of Holiday and Davis shot 4-19, 21% (!), on uncontested shots according to NBA Stats. It is a make or miss league and putting forth more performances like that could put those players out of the league entirely.
The Pelicans travel home and will hope a good Monday practice can get all those bricks out of their system. Up next, the baby Lakers on Tuesday night in the Smoothie King Center. Another poor performance there might get the pitchforks out again.