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Time for Pelicans’ five-game losing streak against Mavericks to end

Luka Doncic may not play, but either way, Zion Williamson needs a win over Dallas on his resume

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Following a tough loss to the Nuggets last night, the Pelicans have to find a way to shake off that bad memory quickly because the Mavericks are on tap later today.

Dallas owns the all-time regular season series against New Orleans, boasting a record of 46-22. More importantly, they’ve won five straight dating back to the start of last season; however, there’s a chance the Pelicans could catch a break to help reverse that trend.

Luka Doncic missed Friday’s contest against the Pacers due to lower back tightness. Not surprisingly, the Mavericks lost 109-94 despite Kristaps Porzingis dropping a line of 31 points, 18 rebounds, three assists and three triples. However, there’s a decent chance Doncic will be ready to play tonight.

“He’s getting treatment, working on it,” Rick Carlisle said yesterday. “He will travel. Hope he’s available [Saturday].”

If Luka doesn’t play, the Pelicans must find a way to take advantage as the Pacers did ... and the Thunder and Bulls before them. The Mavericks are 1-3 on the season when Doncic has sat. However, if he’s a go, well, New Orleans will have their work cut out for them.

Since the start of February, the Mavericks have compiled a 15-8 record. That’s the sixth highest winning percentage over this stretch in the league and Doncic has been a worthy MVP candidate.

Over his last 20 games, the 2019 NBA Rookie of the Year is averaging 29.8 points, 7.4 rebounds and 8.7 assists. In addition, he’s shooting the ball well above his career norms, posting a 49.5 FG% and a 42.3 3PT%. To be fair, the Pelicans are used to trying to guard the Doncic Dragon though.

In nine career games against New Orleans, Luka is spitting fire with averages of 28.0 points, 9.7 rebounds and 8.3 assists, with a 48.5 FG% and a 37.8 3PT% to boot.

If Doncic plays, the Pelicans can’t allow Porzingis to dominate in similar fashion — much like what happened when these two teams met in mid February. In the 143-130 defeat, Luka went for 46 points and 12 assists while Porzingis added 36 points. As a team, the Mavericks set a new franchise record by knocking down 25 made threes.

Thanks to one of the worst defensive showings of the year, Zion’s 36 points, Ingram’s 30 and the 17 New Orleans triples went for naught.

With Lonzo Ball unlikely to play once more thanks to a right flexor hip strain, the next noteworthy potential development could be the availability of the players involved in Thursday’s deadline trade. JJ Redick won’t play, but Nicolo Melli, James Johnson and Wesley Iwundu should be ready to log minutes for their new respected teams.

Hopefully, there will be plenty of motivation after letting another victory slip away less than 24 hours ago, but just in case, someone should send Zion Williamson, Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Jaxson Hayes a text and let them know they’re winless in their professional careers against the Dallas Mavericks.

It sounds like a broken record: the Pelicans need to start posting more wins than losses to finish out this 2020-21 campaign.

Who: New Orleans Pelicans (19-25) vs Dallas Mavericks (23-20)

When: March 27, 8:00 p.m. Central

Where to watch: FSNOLA, FSSW

Where to listen: ESPN 100.3 FM

For more Pelicans talk, subscribe to The Bird Calls podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @OlehKosel.