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NBA Game Preview: Pelicans look to avoid Christmas hangover against Mavericks

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New Orleans attempts to even the season series with Dallas.

Dallas Mavericks v Denver Nuggets Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

For whatever reason, the Dallas Mavericks own the New Orleans Pelicans.

Life’s funny and sometimes one thing always gets the better of the other. The Harlem Globetrotters always beats the Washington Generals; Lucy always pulls the football away from Charlie Brown; Dallas-New Orleans sort of fits that bill.

In 52 matchups Dallas has 38 wins to New Orleans’ 14. That’s almost a 75 win percent for Dallas. And out of all those contests, no game validates Dallas’ dominance over New Orleans than the teams’ first meeting November 27 at the American Airlines Center. The worst Maverick team in about 15 years still got the best of New Orleans, 91-81.

The game was hideous at best for New Orleans. Going into the fourth quarter tied at 60, the Pelicans allowed 31 points to the Mavs over the final frame. Anthony Davis was stellar as usual (36 points, 13 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and a block), but help from his teammates was few and far between. Jrue Holiday valiantly tried to ease Davis’ burden with 17 points off the bench; however, the rest of the team failed to meet the duo halfway. Davis and Holiday combined for 53 points which sounds like a winning formula for the Pelicans. But when you realize that made up for 65 percent of the total points scored by New Orleans you get why Dallas got the win.

Here’s one more sobering way of looking at Dallas’ win over New Orleans: Anthony Davis’ scored 12 more points, 36, than everyone not named Jrue Holiday, 28.

So yeah if New Orleans wants to get a different result than the one from November, other Pelican players pulling their own weight would be a good place to start. Some things I would expect will change tonight than the first meeting. First of all, Jrue Holiday will be starting instead of coming off the bench and Tyreke Evans should be available. And I’d be stunned if Langston Galloway and Terrence Jones combine to score four points this time around.

Dallas should also be a much different team for one major reason: Dirk Nowitzki is back in the rotation.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Los Angeles Clippers Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The 13-time All-Star made his return to the court Friday night after missing Dallas’ previous 12 games with an Achilles injury. While Dallas gains Dirk back they may be without Andrew Bogut and JJ Barea. Bogut has a bone bruise on his knee and is uncertain to play Monday; Barea, meanwhile, has a sore Achilles and his status is unknown.

This should be a winnable game for New Orleans. The Pelicans are at home against one of the few teams behind them in the Western Conference. Yes the Pelican defense imploded in the fourth quarter of the first game, but they still held Dallas to 91 points. That should have been enough but it wasn’t, the Pelican offense didn’t rise to the occasion. I don’t expect that to happen again tonight.

New Orleans isn’t out of the playoff picture despite their record. At 11-21 they’re only three games behind...Sacramento? Wait hold on let me check the standings again...yep, by God that’s accurate the Kings are actually occupying the 8-seed. What a time to be alive. Anyway, if the Pelicans’ objective is compete for a playoff spot and try and catch...Sacramento — man that’s going to take time getting used to — that goal is still in play.

Exercising their Dallas demons would go a long way toward staying in the race.