The Dallas Mavericks opened the day by talking about “The Chase For Eighth,” and Fish wrote all about the mathematics of vaulting from the cellar into playoff contention. And then …
Though it may have seemed to the casual fan that the Mavs had “figured it out” after winning their last two games, the fact just might’ve been that the Mavs caught their previous two opponents at the right time. Both teams were coming off of back-to-back matchups, and both teams had little to no energy heading into a less-than-appetizing matchup with a bad team. Sure, this team has been playing better, but now we go back to expectations being tempered just a bit after the Mavs dropped their matchup with Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans 111-104.
The Pelicans, fresh off of a win over the Miami Heat, and three days of rest, shot the lights out of the gym on Monday, hitting 52.9 percent from the field and 48 percent from beyond the arc. NOLA was also 25 of 30 from the free throw line, and scored 36 points in the paint in the well-rounded effort.
Davis, who has a history of dominating the Mavericks over the last couple of seasons, continued that trend, scoring 28 points on 8-14 shooting to go along with 16 boards and two blocks. (He scored six in the final 2:12 to seal the deal.) Davis was also dynamite from the free-throw line, hitting 12 of 14 shots.
In much the of the same way that Dirk Nowitzki has been un-guardable for most of his career, Davis has become an unstoppable force in the NBA. He is just too long, too quick and too athletic to be covered by almost any defender in the league. Moreover, Davis hasn’t even come close to reaching his ultimate potential, and that scares a lot of people around the league. Here, he was once again a game-changer that the Mavs simply had no answer for, no matter who they tried to match up on him.
Outside of Davis, E’Twaun Moore and Langston Galloway crippled the Mavs with their three-point shooting off the bench, combining to score 33 points on 13-18 from the field, and 7/8 from downtown. The pair nearly outscored the entire Mavs bench on their own, and picked apart the Mavs perimeter defense all night long.
As for Dallas, Deron Williams led the way with 24 points and nine assists, and has now scored 23 or more points and had eight or more assists in three of his last four games. Williams is becoming quiet the weapon for Rick Carlisle’s offense, and has guided this team very admirably over the last few games.
Wes Matthews also contributed 17 points on 4-11 shooting, while Harrison Barnes added 15 points of his own. But Barnes felt his 6-of-14 shooting night let down his club.
Said Barnes: “Frankly, I’d be lying to myself if I said I didn’t blow it down the stretch. … Tonight, I wasn’t that good.”
Barnes’ struggles are a negative surprise. The positive surprise of the night for Mavs fans is the continued success of Seth Curry off of the bench, scoring 16 points on 5/9 from the field. With Monday night’s game, Curry has now scored in double-digits off of the bench in six of his last eight games, averaging 11 points per over that stretch. (Heck, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised anymore!)
Meanwhile, The Big German continued his comeback on Monday, but was forced to exit after 16 minutes of game time due to the time restriction plan he is currently being forced to follow by the training staff. In those 16 minutes, Dirk scored 10 points on four of nine shooting, and add four dimes to go along with it.
The 9-22 Mavs will head home following Monday night’s loss to face the James Harden (who is averaging 24 points and 10.3 assists per game against them this season) and the Houston Rockets on Tuesday, taking part in their fifth back-to-back of the year. Tuesday night’s game will be the fourth and final time the Mavericks will face their in-state rivals this season, with the Rockets winning the previous three matchups by a combined 31 points.
”We’ll fight through it and somehow find a way to win some and get healthier and get going,” Nowitzki said.