Mavericks vs Pelicans recap: Dallas falls to New Orleans 113-106

The Dallas Mavericks (34-33) fell to the New Orleans Pelicans (32-34) on the road Wednesday night, 113-106. CJ McCollum scored 32 to lead New Orleans, while Kyrie Irving was the leading scorer for Dallas with 27 points.

On the second night of going back-to-back in a major division game, the Mavericks got out early and looked good. With Luka Doncic playing in both games (a rarity this season), it was a sign of how seriously the Mavericks took the game. However, after taking the lead early on, the attack went cold. Doncic grabbed his 15th technical of the season during the quarter. The teams ended the first quarter at 24 apiece.

Things went sideways quickly for the Mavericks in the next frame. Dallas scored just eight points in the top half of the quarter and couldn’t stop the Pelicans. Despite holding New Orleans in single digits for much of the period, the Pelicans threw themselves into the offense late and ran into halftime with a 59–43 lead.

Things got even uglier for Dallas in the third quarter. Despite finding a way to cut the lead to eight points, they couldn’t find the defense to take the lead further. Doncic left the game with about three minutes remaining due to a thigh strain and it looked like the game could be over. New Orleans went into the final frame 83-65.

And yet the Mavericks weren’t done yet. A barrage of scoring in the fourth, including contributions from Jaden Hardy, Davis Bertans and Christian Wood, saw the Mavericks cut the lead all the way to three points with four minutes remaining. CJ McCollum, however, had something to say about that, scoring 13 points in the last four minutes and putting Dallas out for good. The Mavericks fell 113-106.

Now some thoughts:

Mavericks, Seeding: Heck Yeah! Yes!

Mavericks, harvesting: Well this sucks! What does it matter!

With the Mavericks just one game over .500 and many more games to play before the end of the season, I bet Dallas is thinking about some of the many games they gave away. There’s a whole list that can hit double digits if you really dive into the weeds. Prior to the Kyrie Irving trade, Dallas played a mind-boggling basketball with fouls that could be attributed to the players, the coaches, and even the front office for putting together the lackluster roster.

Now that they have a new star but less depth, their margin of error is even smaller.

Playing Luka Doncic was not wise

It’s easy to say this now. I don’t take it as a criticism, but as a statement of fact long after the fact. It’s frustrating because Dallas probably felt like they had to play him because this would have been an important win for tiebreaks and playoff placements down the line and to combine with my point mentioned earlier, Dallas gave away a lot of games this season , including more than a few where Doncic sat purely for rest reasons. The Mavericks weren’t good enough for Doncic to rest some of the games he did. He probably needed it tonight, his thigh injury was something they had talked about after the game.

Instead, he left the game with an injury and they might have made a bad situation worse, both in terms of his injury and the team’s immediate future in the standings.

What do we do with these rotations?

Coaching is tough, but playing Frank Ntilikina and Theo Pinson before they joined the rotation in the fourth that almost pulled them back in (Kyrie Irving, Jaden Hardy, Davis Bertans, Christian Wood and Tim Hardaway Jr.) is an active bad decision. Frank can’t score. Theo is good at podcasting. While I know Jason Kidd isn’t going anywhere… Kidd needs to do better with the obvious. Dallas cannot afford these mistakes and losses.

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