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Game 21: All eyes on Luka Doncic and late-game minutes — if Pelicans find themselves in that situation against Mavericks

Can Jrue Holiday and Lonzo Ball give the young MVP candidate any trouble defensively?

Dallas Mavericks v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Images

The New Orleans Pelicans have lost five straight games, but the road doesn’t get any easier because they must now face the national media’s newest darling, the Dallas Mavericks, twice in the next three matchups.

Yes, Kristaps Porzingis is around, but everything begins and ends with Luka Doncic. The second year guard is having the best season since, well, nobody. We haven’t see anyone lurking in this neighborhood of production (30.6 points, 9.9 rebounds and 9.6 assists) since Oscar Robertson; however, we must point out that the Big O didn’t accomplish these jaw-dropping numbers in the league until his age-22 season.

Luka is 20!!

So, obviously, the key will be to limit (cough, Jrue Holiday) the impact of a player knocking on the door of superstardom and the 2020 Most Valuable Player Award, but there is another: the Pelicans have got to find a way to solve their clutch time demons — if they’re fortunate enough to find themselves in that position tonight.

With no James Harden or someone who can get to the free throw line at their leisure, head coach Alvin Gentry believes it is imperative for the team to maintain the same level of ball and player movement at the end of games as they do in first quarters if they want to get over the current hump of losing contests in waning seconds

“If we were a great half court team, then we would play half court basketball,” said Gentry yesterday after practice. “If we had these isolation guys that could go get us baskets, we’d play just like Houston plays. But we don’t have that. The biggest asset that we have is our length and our speed, and the fact that we have several guys who can facilitate. But if we’re not taking advantage of that, then we’re not doing the right thing. We’ve got to get back to the pace of the game being the same in the fourth quarter as in the first quarter.”

Coach may have a point because no one on the roster has found any success in clutch minutes, not scoring efficiently nor getting to the charity stripe.

For more on tonight’s matchup, please give Preston’s preview a read!

Where To Watch/Listen

What: New Orleans Pelicans (6-14) vs Dallas Mavericks (13-6)

Where: Smoothie King Center

When: Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019 6:30 PM CDT.

How: TNT