Dallas Mavericks: New Orleans Pelicans

Rapid Reaction: Mavericks 108, Pelicans 89

February, 26, 2014
Feb 26

DALLAS -- The Mavericks cruised to a 108-89 win over the New Orleans Pelicans Wednesday.

How it happened: The Mavs took care of business against a bad team that lost its lone star in the second quarter, when power forward Anthony Davis suffered a sprained left shoulder.

With the league’s leading shot blocker in a sling for most of the game, the Mavs pounded the Pelicans in the paint, where Dallas scored 52 points.

Monta Ellis led the Mavs with 23 points, seven assists and four steals, consistently creating havoc off of drives. Dirk Nowitzki scored 18 points in 27 minutes, and sixth man Vince Carter was even more efficient, finishing with 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting in 21 minutes.

What it means: The Mavs climbed back into sixth place in the Western Conference standings with their win and the Golden State Warriors’ loss to the Chicago Bulls. Dallas improved to 36-23 with its 10th win in 12 games, putting the Mavs a season-best 13 games above .500. The Pelicans dropped to 23-34.

Play of the game: Carter finished a spinning drive to the hoop in the fourth quarter with a pretty southpaw scoop shot. After blowing by Tyreke Evans, Carter spun past big man Jeff Withey in the lane and lofted up a left-handed scoop on the other side of the lane. The ball spun around the rim before falling through the net, adding a little aesthetic touch.

Stat of the night: Jose Calderon made at least one 3-pointer for the 17th consecutive game, matching a career-best streak from earlier this season.

Pelicans cry foul about late no-call

January, 11, 2014
Jan 11
DALLAS -- For the second time in the past two weeks, a Mavericks' win ended with the opposing coach crying foul about a no-call.

In this case, New Orleans Pelicans coach Monty Williams was upset that contact by Dallas guard Monta Ellis on Austin Rivers didn't draw a whistle in the final second of the Mavs' 110-107 win Saturday night. Williams thought Rivers should have had the opportunity to shoot three free throws to potentially send the game into overtime.

"That's just too bad," Williams said. "That's just not right. If we stopped it with .5 on the clock, Monta Ellis' arm is across Austin's -- both of his arms for a 3-point shot. It's hard to swallow that kind of no-call in a game like that, especially when Dirk [Nowitzki] gets the same call on the right side in the first half.

"That's a tough one. Then, I think they shot 45 free throws. So it's hard to swallow that. Certainly not going to blame the game on the refs, but certainly didn't like the call at the end."

The Mavs' win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Dec. 30 ended in similar fashion. NBA president of basketball operations Rod Thorn released a statement the next day acknowledging that Shawn Marion should have been called for a foul that would have given Kevin Love a chance to shoot free throws to send the game into overtime.

Ellis admitted he would have wanted a foul call if he had been the offensive player in that situation, but he stopped short of saying he hacked Rivers.

"If you look at it, Rivers wasn't even trying to go," Ellis said. "He was just dribbling the basketball. All I did was put my hand down just like this [holding hand out below his waist] and never went back. That's just like you're just trying to put the game in the referee's hand."

Rivers said the video, which is sure to be reviewed by the league office, speaks for itself.

"I couldn't get the shot off," Rivers said. "I've never, ever had something like that. ... I can't really comment on it. I'm not trying to lose any money over this. An unfortunate event happened. It happens in basketball.

"We made mistakes down the stretch, and you can't put the game in the hands of somebody else, so it's not the referees' fault."

Rapid Reaction: Mavs 107, Pelicans 90

January, 10, 2014
Jan 10

NEW ORLEANS -- The Mavericks cruised to a 107-90 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

How it happened: The Mavs pretty much put away their injury-depleted opponent with a 24-4 run that bridged the second and third quarters.

Dallas closed out the first half with a 13-2 spurt fueled by Monta Ellis’ eight-point scoring spree in a two-minute span. The Mavs carried the momentum into the second half, when they held the Pelicans to one field goal in the first six minutes while outscoring New Orleans 11-2.

Dirk Nowitzki, who was coming off his worst offensive outing of the season in Wednesday’s loss to the San Antonio Spurs, bounced back by leading the Mavs with 24 points on 10-of-19 shooting while playing only 28 minutes. Ellis added 23 points on 8-of-16 shooting in a game that Dallas led wire to wire.

The Mavs set a new season high by making 14 3-pointers on 28 attempts, led by Nowitzki knocking down half of his eight long-range shots. Dallas shot 52.6 percent from the floor.

New Orleans, which is dealing with the long-term absences of point guard Jrue Holiday and power forward Ryan Anderson, was led by Eric Gordon’s 27 points.

What it means: After losing three of their previous four games, the Mavs cruised to a convincing win to begin the home-and-home back-to-back against the Pelicans. Dallas improved to 21-16 to remain a game and a half in front of the Denver Nuggets for eighth place in the Western Conference standings. The Pelicans, whose injury issues put them in jeopardy of dropping out of the playoff race, fell to 15-20.

Play of the game: Ellis stripped Austin Rivers to start a fast break and finished it with a layup between a pair of defenders with a minute remaining in the first half. The bucket stretched the Mavs’ lead to 12.

Stat of the night: The Mavs improved to 3-7 (1-4 on the road) when Ellis and Nowitzki both score at least 20 points.

Al-Farouq Aminu (who?) dominates Dallas

January, 10, 2014
Jan 10
NEW ORLEANS -- Let’s play a little game of One of These Guys Doesn’t Belong Here.

The list of players who have had multiple 15-point, 20-rebound performances against the Mavericks: Al-Farouq Aminu, Charles Barkley, Kevin Garnett, Dwight Howard, Shaquille O’Neal and Hakeem Olajuwon.

Al-Farouq Aminu?! How does that happen?

“I was guarding him,” Dirk Nowitzki deadpanned, offering an honest explanation for how a role player for the Pelicans has had the two best games of his career in New Orleans’ last two meetings with the Mavericks. “They were saying I got him multiple contract extensions already by guarding him.”

Aminu, a 6-foot-9 small forward who has averaged 6.4 points and 5.4 rebounds during his four NBA seasons, has only 14 double-doubles in his career. Four of those have come against the Mavericks, including a 16-point, 20-rebound outing on April 17 and another 16-20 line Dec. 4.

“He’s really been a thorn in our side for the simple fact that he’s very aggressive,” Vince Carter said. “They don’t run many plays for him, so that’s how he makes his living, and he’s doing a darn good job when he sees the Mavericks.”

The Mavs shouldn’t have to have Nowitzki defend Aminu in Friday night’s game. That matchup was the result of needing to use Shawn Marion to guard perimeter-threat power forward Ryan Anderson, but both Marion (shoulder/ribs) and Anderson (back) are out due to injuries.

Regardless of the matchups, Aminu has Dallas’ full attention. The Mavs might be the only team who worries about Aminu as much as blossoming Pelicans star Anthony Davis.
NEW ORLEANS -- Moping about how much they miss Shawn Marion won’t do the Mavericks any good.

It certainly wouldn’t help fill the huge hole in the Mavs’ rotation caused by Marion's absence due to a badly bruised right shoulder and ribs. The Mavs know for certain that Marion won’t be joining them in New Orleans for Friday’s game, so they better figure out how they can do a reasonable job of replacing him.

With Marion, the Mavs are below average defensively and bad rebounding. Without him ... well, the initial results were really ugly.

“If he’s not here, we’ve got to have other guys step up,” said coach Rick Carlisle, who isn’t certain when Marion might be ready to play again. “At this point, we’re getting into mid-January. There’s going to be many games missed all around the league. We’ve got to have other guys ready to step forward.”

That definitely did not happen in Wednesday’s lopsided loss to the San Antonio Spurs.

Wayne Ellington was a nonfactor in his first start for the Mavs. He scored five points in 11 minutes, but his buckets came in garbage time. He had no rebounds, assists, blocks or steals.

In fairness to Ellington, he hadn’t practice much at small forward. And his offensive game, which essentially consists of shooting open jumpers and moving the ball, could use some WD-40 after riding pine for most of the season.

“It’s tough,” Ellington said. “It’s very tough, especially for a guy that shoots the basketball. It’s tough to get in a rhythm. You’re not really getting much game action or playing much, but that’s something I’ve got to get better at myself.”

Jae Crowder, who played 27 minutes, wasn’t much more impactful. He had five points and only one rebound in 27 minutes, almost 10 more than his norm.

It’d be silly to blame Marion’s absence for the blowout loss, considering the Spurs’ average margin of victory during their seven-game winning streak in the series is 17 points. However, there’s no doubt that Dallas desperately missed a guy who is their leading rebounder, best defender, averages 11.3 points per game and plays significant minutes at both forward positions.

The Spurs exploited the weaknesses created by Marion’s absence. Tony Parker, the All-Star point guard the Mavs typically ask Marion to defend, torched Dallas for 25 points despite playing only three quarters. Dallas got absolutely dominated on the glass, being outrebounded by a 55-32 margin.

It won’t necessarily get a whole lot easier during this weekend’s home-and-home back-to-back against the New Orleans Pelicans. Remember that the Pelicans had a ridiculous 58-38 rebounding edge in the Mavs’ previous trip to the Big Easy this season, and that was with Marion in the lineup and New Orleans star power forward Anthony Davis out. Pelicans point guard Jrue Holiday lit it up for 26 points and nine assists in that game, which the Mavs somehow still won. (UPDATE: The Pelicans announced Friday morning that Holiday is out indefinitely with a stress fracture.)

Marion’s absence makes the Mavs’ biggest weaknesses worse. The Mavs have to figure out how to mask those flaws and win anyway.
ESPNDallas.com columnist Jean-Jacques Taylor and MavsOutsider.com editor-in-chief Bryan Gutierrez will join me each week to run a three-man weave on a few questions on the minds of Mavs fans.

How should Rick Carlisle react if Samuel Dalembert is late again?

Gutierrez: The Mavs are kind of damned if they do and damned if they don't. If it happens again, waiving him is an option, but Mark Cuban would be hurting the team by taking away the lone proven defensive big man. Letting him hang around after another tardiness just sends a mixed signal to the rest of the locker room. Dallas can try to pursue options in the trade market, but it's likely to produce slim pickings. It's a tough spot for the Mavericks, honestly. The only reasonable answer I can come up with is a substantial suspension if it happens again.

Taylor: This is interesting because Dalembert alluded to having some issues with his sleep pattern getting disrupted and forcing him to oversleep. I've had relatives that sleep so deep you literally have to shove them or sprinkle them with water to wake them up, so I understand fundamentally he could have a legitimate issue. They've tried to set up a multi-layered alarm system and he seems genuinely remorseful. The Mavs should take the Cowboys' approach with Dez Bryant and have someone pick him up and bring him to practice, and Dalembert should have to pay whatever it costs. Since they like him there's nothing really to do except suspend him for a game every time it happens.

MacMahon: Sorry, but I'm skeptical about Dalembert's supposed sleeping issues. There are reasons that Dalembert is playing for his fifth team in five seasons. The Mavs were well aware of this when they signed him. It's part of the deal for Dalembert, who was suspended by the Milwaukee Bucks during their trip to Dallas last season because he overslept for shootaround. If he gets his third strike with the Mavs, he has to be out for at least a game with no pay. If it continues happening, they'll need to keep hitting him in the pocket. But the Mavs need Dalembert's defensive presence too much to consider cutting him.

Is Monta Ellis' recent statistical dip just a bump in the road or a regression to the mean?

Gutierrez: It certainly looks like a regression, but there are multiple angles in play. This was the concern I had about Ellis' attacking game. By getting to the rim, make or miss, he's putting his body through a lot. It doesn't look as if he's dealing with any substantial injuries, but the wear and tear is going to have an overall impact on his game. In addition, the opposition is scheming to take away Ellis' strengths. A season is all about peaks and valleys, so it's up to Ellis to get things back in order. On the plus side, this regression to the mean still looks better than the one that was going on during O.J. Mayo's rough patch last season.

Taylor: He's human and he's not a superstar, so we should've expected his performance to dip a tad. Ellis has been a good player for the Mavs and he'll continue to be productive. As long as he's taking good shots and not taking bad shots, he'll ultimately be fine. I'd worry a lot more about the raggedy defense and the spotty rebounding than Ellis.

MacMahon: Ellis isn't as bad as he looked last season in Milwaukee, when he was unhappy and essentially just waiting for his contract to expire. He's probably not as good as he looked in his first month with the Mavs, at least not on a consistent basis after opponents have had a chance to study the ways he was excelling early this season. A reasonable hope is that Ellis can average 20 points and shoot 45 percent from the field, which are what his numbers for the season are right now. If he does that, he'll be a decent bargain at $8 million per season, if not the steal he appeared to be after a month.

Dirk Nowitzki clarified his doubts about the Mavs' playoff chances, saying he meant only that they won't make the playoffs if they keep blowing big leads. Is this a playoff team?

Gutierrez: In my opinion, the competition for the No. 7 and No. 8 seeds in the West is starting to thin out. Despite Kevin Love's beast of a season, Minnesota is stuck hovering around .500. Denver is still a mess, and New Orleans seems to be snake bit by injuries this season. If the Mavs can avoid injuries, even with their shortcomings on the defensive end, they'll be a playoff team. That said, Dallas should aim to make a second trip on the road during its first-round matchup. Remember, that wasn't something the Mavs were able to do as they were swept against Oklahoma City in 2012.

Taylor: Every team goes through lulls. The Mavs are still a playoff team because Dirk, Shawn Marion, Vince Carter and Ellis are veteran players who will ensure they get there with their mental toughness. This trend of blowing big leads is troubling, but this is still primarily a jump-shooting team. Add that to bad defense and suspect rebounding and it's easy to see why opponents feel as if they're never out of the game. The Western Conference is tough, but the Mavs will have enough to get a seventh or eighth seed when it's all said and done.

MacMahon: If I had to put money down, I'd bet on the Mavs making the playoffs, but it wouldn't be with much confidence. I'm not so quick to dismiss the Timberwolves, Pelicans or even the Memphis Grizzlies, who will be a much better team once Marc Gasol gets healthy. I see the Mavs having to scrap until the final week of the regular season to punch their playoff ticket.

Rapid Reaction: Mavs 100, Pelicans 97

December, 4, 2013

NEW ORLEANS -- The Dallas Mavericks squeaked out a 100-97 win at New Orleans Arena, their second victory in two nights.

How it happened: The Hornets seemed to find all sorts of bizarre ways to beat the Mavs in this building in recent years, but the Pelicans couldn’t close the deal in their first swing at Dallas.

The Mavericks left the door wide open when Dirk Nowitzki split a pair of free throws with 32.3 seconds remaining, meaning Dallas led by only one point. The Pelicans got two great looks on the next possession -- an open, midrange jumper by small forward Al-Farouq Aminu and a driving floater by shooting guard Eric Gordon -- but neither of them went down.

After Nowitzki hit a couple of free throws to push the Mavs’ lead to three with eight seconds remaining, New Orleans got one more good look. Power forward Ryan Anderson, who had been red-hot from 3-point range entering the game, couldn’t knock down a game-tying 26-footer.

The Mavs survived big nights by Aminu (16 points, 20 rebounds) and point guard Jrue Holiday (26 points, 9 assists), who would have given Jose Calderon fits even if the Mavs’ point guard wasn’t hobbled by a bad ankle.

Nowitzki didn’t shoot the ball well, making only 7 of 17 shots from the floor. But he put up double-digit points in the fourth quarter for the second straight night. He had 11 of his team-high 21 points in the final frame.

Mavs sixth man Vince Carter busted out of his slump with 15 points on 4-of-8 shooting. Pelicans sixth man Tyreke Evans had an awful game, scoring eight points on 1-of-9 shooting.

All five New Orleans’ starters scored in double figures, but the Mavs had a 25-10 edge in points off the bench.

What it means: For the first time in five tries, the Mavs recorded a road win against a West foe. Dallas won on back-to-back nights after dropping four of its previous five games. The Mavs are 12-8 at roughly the quarter point of the season, putting them on pace for 49 wins. The Pelicans fell to 9-9.

Play of the game: He’s perhaps the best finesse power forward in NBA history, but Nowitzki showed his willingness to do some dirty work by diving to the floor to grab a contested loose ball in the final minute of the third quarter. He immediately shoveled the ball to a sprinting Jae Crowder, who took one more step before throwing down a game-tying tomahawk slam to finish the transition scramble.

Stat of the night: The Mavs are 11-1 when Monta Ellis has at least five assists and 3-0 when he records double-digits dishes. He matched his season high with 10 assists against the Pelicans to go along with 14 points.



Dirk Nowitzki
21.7 2.7 0.9 32.9
ReboundsD. Nowitzki 6.2
AssistsM. Ellis 5.7
StealsM. Ellis 1.7
BlocksB. Wright 0.9