Pelicans fall just a touch short on the Road

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Published: January 12, 2014

That was a weird game.  Both teams started out ice cold and sloppy.  Then both teams caught fire in the third, putting up 82 points between them.  Two factors, however, worked to doom the Pelicans in the end:  All their missing big guns, and Dirk Nowitzki.

I said in the pregame I wanted the Pelicans to defend Dirk one-on-one and not double him.  They actually did that most of the game – but the Mavs used Dirk completely differently than the usually do.  Instead of having Dirk post at the elbow, like he’s done famously for years – Rick Carlisle made a masterful decision and put him in the pick-and-pop.  That took Davis out of the picture fairly frequently as he helped on the guard and Dirk was left facing a lesser defender or a recovering Davis, and he could shoot over the top.  And shoot he did, burying 40 points and ripping it from deep as he went 5-9.

Still, the Pelicans fought in this game.  Unlike the past couple games, I didn’t see much in the way of laziness out there.  Everyone was going hard, and Monty was trying to push buttons.  He ended up cycling every player he had available into the game for at least 4 minutes trying to see who would step up, and he finally found one in Darius Miller in the fourth.  Miller gave the Pelicans that guy who could stretch the floor a little, knocked down four of five threes, and helped Davis and Gordon bring the Pelicans back from a deficit and keep the game interesting all the way to the end.  Monty even ended up messing with his rotations a bit at the end to keep him on the floor, cycling Gordon and Aminu and Smith in and out around Darius, rather than just replacing him like he usually would.  Miller paid him with threes and a massive clutch three at the end to make it a one possession game after Dallas had earned a tiny bit of breathing room.

In the end, though, Eric Gordon and Jason Smith fouled out, the Pelicans couldn’t get the ball into attack position enough, and the team fell 110-107.

Observations

  • After last night, the Mavericks were keying their defense on Eric Gordon.  His deep shot was on, but when he attacked, the Mavericks sent three guys to collapse, and it resulted in a lot of turnovers as they kept reaching in and poking the ball free.  It’s a lot harder to do that if you have to worry about Holiday, Anderson or Evans.
  • Davis was phenomenal as always. 28 and 14 and long armed defense all over the place.  He’s still got a coltish body, but a thoroughbred’s game.
  • It’s hard to win any game when you commit 33 fouls.  And there were some rock-stupid fouls out there.  Ajinca fouled Dirk Nowitzki three times on the perimeter – and twice Dirk was trying to “run” around picks.  Just let him go and get him on the other side.  Dirk’s not missing many free throws.  Ajinca wasn’t the only guy with dumb fouls.  Jason Smith committed several fouls that left my face all crinkled and confused.
  • Al Farouq loves playing Dallas, and he left everything on the floor tonight. even stroking a pair of nice jumpers.
  • Morrow still sometimes tries to create off the dribble against a set defense.  It makes me sad.
  • Austin Rivers tries to create off the dribble against a set defense too.  It makes me frustrated.  His dribbling skills remain excellent and he can get almost anywhere.  He just can’t finish anything.
  • 45 free throws for the Mavs off those 33 fouls, by the way.   That’s a terrible ratio, by the way.
  • In the third, when the Pelicans had their most offensive success, it seemed like they decided two things:  1. Whatever side of the floor Dirk is standing – that’s where we attack.  2. If we can get Calderon on that side too, we’re going to tear things up.   Like last year with Vasquez and Lopez, those two guys are less than the sum of their parts when paired defensively.
  • There was an awful lot of contact on that last play.

Next game is Monday against the Spurs.

 

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