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NBA Preview: Pelicans and Mavericks to tango again, this time in New Orleans

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The rookie Luka Doncic bested Anthony Davis inside the final minute 48 hours ago. What’s in store tonight?

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Dallas Mavericks Andrew Dieb-USA TODAY Sports

Another night, another heartbreak — But is it really considered heartbreak at this point?

My girlfriend of two years broke up with me over a decade ago and I was pretty shattered, but imagine if she had dumped me five times within two weeks? I’m pretty sure you just grow numb to it at that point, right?

Such is life as a Pelicans’ fan. New Orleans continues to lead the league in disappointing play in the minutes that matter most after failing yet again against a Dallas Mavericks team that had been equally inept in the final stanza recently, having lost six consecutive games by an average of six points.

Anthony Davis led the Pelicans with a stat line worthy of praise (32 points, 18 rebounds) but a -12 plus/minus was hard to miss, too. The big man got what he wanted late with ten consecutive points in the final five minutes before jacking up an inexplicable three-point attempt with the Pelicans trailing by just one point and a near full shot clock at his disposal.

Sure, I’m being overly critical of one of the game’s best talents, but I’m just preparing myself for what seems all but inevitable...

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at New Orleans Pelicans Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

As is their custom, the Pelicans big three of AD, Randle and Jrue combined for 80 of the Pelicans 119 points, while Frank Jackson finished next with 10 points on 4/5 shooting in 14 minutes. In order for things to turn out differently, the Pels will need (you guessed it) more production from Tim Frazier, Darius Miller and the rest of the Pelicans’ bench.

The Mavericks, on the other hand, had six players finish in double-digits, five of which scored at least 16. Luka Doncic sizzled with his heady play and veteran demeanor, finishing with 21, 10 and 9 to lead the Mavericks.

The Pelicans could hope to find more efficient looks (47%), more rebounds (39-46), more paint scoring (52, down from season average of 58), but the Pelicans managed 44.4% from three-point range, and turned the ball over just 10 times with 25 assisted baskets.

The foul discrepancy could play the biggest part in Nola, as the two teams combined by 68 shots at the stripe, 38 of which were taken by Dallas. The Pelicans will have to hope for a favorable whistle in Nola (though they did get the benefit of two technical shots).

But even should the Pelicans benefit from the advantage, they may just blow the opportunity anyway, as they convert 76% of charity stripe looks on the season.

If you’re looking for a more even-keeled preview of the Pelicans and Mavericks, try Jamile’s excellent work here.

But I think we all know what to expect at this point:

New Orleans Dallas
Pace: 102.8 (3rd) Pace: 99.8 (11th)
ORtg: 113.1 (7th) ORtg: 110.2 (16th)
DRtg: 112.2 (23rd) DRtg: 109.4 (13th)
Projected Starters:
New Orleans Dallas
PG - Tim Frazier PG - Luka Doncic
SG - Jrue Holiday SG - Wesley Matthews
SF - Darius Miller F - Harrison Barnes
F - Julius Randle PF - Max Kleber
C - Anthony Davis C - DeAndre Jordan

Where To Watch

What: Dallas Mavericks (16-17) at New Orleans Pelicans (15-20)

Where: Smoothie King Center, New Orleans

When: Friday, December 28, 2018, 7:00 p.m. Central

How: FSNO, NBATV, 99.5 FM WRNO