Game 37: Mavs at Pelicans

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GAME RECAP: Mavericks 128, Pelicans 120

Dennis Smith Jr. notches a triple-double with 21 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists as the Mavericks get the win over the Pelicans, 128-120.

NEW ORLEANS — Hoping to carry over the success of back-to-back wins, the Dallas Mavericks found themselves squaring off with an equally hot team Friday night on the road.

Capturing a 98-93 home win Tuesday over Toronto and a 98-94 road victory the following night at Indiana, the Mavericks stepped into the Smoothie King Center with hopes of securing their first three-game winning streak of the season. The Mavs also attempted to cool down the surging New Orleans Pelicans, who had won their previous three games. And while avenging a 99-94 home loss on Nov. 3 with a 128-120 victory, the Mavericks (12-25) moved to 2-0 on their current three-game road trip by setting a new franchise record for made three-pointers as rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. recorded his first career-triple-double.

“I mean, we won the game, and that’s always great. But we didn’t win it the way we wanted to on the defensive end,” Smith modestly said after becoming the youngest player in franchise history and the third-youngest player in league history to record a triple-double during the historic win. “I think we gave up 41 points in the second quarter. That’s something we don’t want to do again. But like I said, we won, so you can’t really argue with that result too much.”

Opening the game with veteran swingman Wesley Matthews’ score at the rim, the Mavericks then sprinted to a 6-0 start after baskets from 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki and Smith. The first-year floor general stayed on the attack from there, feeding German big man Maxi Kleber for a slam before tipping in Nowitzki’s jumper from the baseline to put the Mavs up 10-4.

Smith then drilled a three-pointer before feeding Tunisian center Salah Mejri to put the Mavs up 15-6. Another assist came for Smith a short time later after finding Matthews near the sideline for a triple. Smith took matters into his own hands from there with a three-pointer from the top of the key to move into double figures. Reserve guard J.J. Barea took control a short time after that with a lob pass to backup big man Dwight Powell. Five straight points off the bench from veteran Devin Harris then took the Mavericks into the second stanza with a 36-21 advantage after Smith recorded 10 points, five rebounds and four assists in the first quarter.

“You know, they were trying to press up at first, and I realized I could get to rack whenever I wanted,” Smith explained. “After I got the floater to go down, everybody started backing off and my jump shot was falling tonight. That really opened up the offense for everybody else.”

Hoping to keep their foot on the gas as the second period got underway, the Mavs welcomed an alley-oop connection between Harris and Powell early in the quarter. Back-to-back threes from Nowitzki and Harris then put the Mavs up 22 at 46-24, forcing a New Orleans timeout with 9:44 left in the first half.

The Mavs continued to get a boost from their bench after back-to-back triples from Barea and Harris put the visiting team up 54-30. Mavs leading scorer Harrison Barnes lent some assistance after seeing the Pelicans (18-17) stage a 7-0 spurt, scoring on an up-and-under move at the basket. Smith then stepped back into the scoring with a step-back three-pointer as his stellar night continued. Still, the Pelicans continued to charge back after All-Star big man DeMarcus Cousins’ thunderous slam brought New Orleans within 15, 63-48, with 3:15 left in the half. A three from Harris and a trio of treys from Matthews quickly quieted the Pelicans’ run, however, sending the Mavericks into the halftime break with a 77-60 margin under their belt.

Led by Matthews’ 18-point first half on 7-of-9 shooting and 4 of 5 from three, the Mavericks outshot the Pelicans through two quarters, 69 percent to 51.1 percent. The Mavs also held a 20-13 rebounding advantage, hitting 13 of 18 from three-point range as a team for their highest-scoring first half of the season.

“I mean, we really moved the ball there, especially in the first half,” Nowitzki said. “I mean, guys just started to get hot. Devin got hot, Wes hit like three or four in a row, and [Smith] was hot all night, stepping back behind a screen when they went under. That was beautiful to watch.”

Answering a three-pointer by Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday with a triple of his own, Smith picked up where he left off at in the early stage of the third quarter. Nowitzki followed suit a short time later with a triple to put the Mavs up 83-63 after making his 1,400th career start earlier in the night.

However, after picking up his third foul of the night with 8:43 left in the period, Nowitzki was forced to take a seat. Smith and Barnes then picked up the slack with a pair of three-pointers to keep the Pelicans at bay. Harris also continued his spectacular shooting night off the bench with his fifth three-pointer. And despite seeing the Pelicans close to within eight as All-Star forward Anthony Davis came alive, the Mavericks escaped into the fourth with a 109-101 lead after Nowitzki helped the team tie its franchise record with 18 made three-pointers.

Seeing their lead shrink to six early in the final quarter, the Mavs hoped to feed off the momentum of Barea’s alley-oop feed to Powell. Second-year standout Yogi Ferrell then stepped up with a baseline jumper, extending the Dallas lead to 10 in the process. But after two free throws by Powell gave the Mavericks a 12-point cushion, Ferrell answered an aggressive Cousins at the other end with a timely three to set a new franchise record while forcing a New Orleans timeout with Dallas up 118-107 and 6:48 left to play.

The Dallas defense then tried to string together stops to close out the game after Davis brought the Pelicans to within three, 118-115, to force a timeout by Mavs coach Rick Carlisle with 3:38 remaining. Nowitzki’s 2-of-3 trip to the foul line extended the lead to five with 3:17 on the game clock. Barea stepped up from there with a pair of three-pointers after Davis brought the Pelicans within three, forcing a New Orleans timeout as the Mavericks surged to a 126-117 lead with 1:57 left to play. And with Smith recording a triple-double in the final moments, the Mavs finished off the win with lockdown defense down the stretch.

Scoring 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting, Smith led the way to the win while grabbing a career-high 10 rebounds and dishing 10 assists to overshadow his seven turnovers. Matthews added 18 points, and Harris pitched in a season-high 17 points off the bench. Barea finished with 14 points and nine assists in a reserve role. Meanwhile, Nowitzki finished with 13 points and 12 boards. Barnes added 13 points and five rebounds in the first unit as the Mavericks finished with seven scorers in double figures.

“It feels great since we won, but I almost had a quadruple-double. I had a lot of turnovers. But my teammates picked me up, and they told me to keep playing. My coaches said the same thing, so they showed confidence in me to play through mistakes. That just gave me extra confidence to go out there and do my thing,” Smith admitted.

“Well, [Smith] handled things well,” Carlisle added. “You know, if you get a triple-double in an NBA game as a rookie point guard, that’s a big deal. So, we’re getting the game ball for him. It’s the first of many. There were some ups and downs, but throughout the game he kept attacking and he kept his gander up competitively. … I’m real happy for him.”

Davis scored 33 points on 12-of-22 shooting, and Cousins added 32 points and 20 rebounds. However, the Mavericks outshot the Pelicans for the game, 55.4 percent to 49.4 percent, adding a 43-31 rebounding advantage to overcome their 18 turnovers with 22-of-39 shooting from three-point range.

“Really, we needed all those points, ‘cause defensively we weren’t very good until the end,” Nowitzki confessed. “The first quarter was good. We tried to make them work and compete. I mean, fourth quarter was good defensively. In the middle, where we gave up 80 points in two quarters, that was horrible. But they’re a great offensive team. I mean, they’ve got talent all over the floor and they’ve got shooters, so we needed every one of those points. We’re happy to get a tough road win.”

Note: The Mavericks will now head Oklahoma City and conclude their road trip Sunday against the Thunder. The season series is tied at 1-1. The game will tip off at 6 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN. The game will also air in Spanish on KFLC AM 1270.

The Mavs return to their home floor next Wednesday night at American Airlines Center against the defending champion Golden State Warriors. Golden State leads the season series 2-0. The game will tip off at 7:30 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN. The game will also air in Spanish on KFLC AM 1270. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by visiting Mavs.com, or by calling (214) 747-MAVS.

Injury updates:

Dorian Finney-Smith (left knee quadriceps tendinitis) — out
Seth Curry (stress reaction, left tibia) — out
Josh McRoberts (lower extremity injury) — out
Nerlens Noel (left thumb surgery) — out

Mavericks

All Stats

PLAYER MIN FG 3PT FT OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF +/- PTS
H. Barnes, SF 36 6-15 1-5 0-0 1 4 5 0 0 0 1 1 1 13
M. Kleber, PF 21 1-4 0-1 1-2 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 3 1 3
D. Nowitzki, C 24 4-9 3-5 2-3 0 12 12 2 0 1 0 3 17 13
W. Matthews, SG 29 7-11 4-7 0-0 1 3 4 2 2 0 0 3 0 18
D. Smith Jr., PG 31 8-12 5-7 0-0 2 8 10 10 1 0 7 1 -4 21
S. Mejri 14 3-4 0-0 1-2 0 1 1 1 0 2 1 4 -5 7
Y. Ferrell 23 3-6 1-2 0-0 0 2 2 2 0 0 1 2 -3 7
J. Barea 23 5-10 3-5 1-2 1 1 2 9 1 1 4 1 14 14
D. Powell 14 4-4 0-0 7-7 0 3 3 0 1 0 0 4 7 15
D. Harris 20 5-8 5-7 2-2 0 3 3 1 0 0 0 1 12 17
K. Collinsworth 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
S. Curry 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
D. Finney-Smith 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
J. McRoberts 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
J. Motley 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
N. Noel 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
TEAM   46-83 22-39 14-18 5 38 43 27 5 4 15 23   128
    55.4% 56.4%                      

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Pelicans

All Stats

PLAYER MIN FG 3PT FT OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF +/- PTS
E. Moore, SF 34 5-8 1-3 5-5 0 1 1 3 1 0 0 1 -8 16
A. Davis, PF 42 12-22 1-4 8-8 0 5 5 2 2 0 1 3 -3 33
D. Cousins, C 43 11-24 3-10 7-8 3 17 20 8 2 5 6 4 -12 32
J. Holiday, SG 39 7-12 3-6 6-7 1 1 2 3 0 1 1 0 3 23
R. Rondo, PG 19 3-9 0-3 0-0 0 2 2 8 3 0 0 3 -5 6
D. Miller 13 0-2 0-2 2-3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 -12 2
I. Clark 14 1-3 0-2 0-1 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 2 0 2
D. Cunningham 9 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 -1 0
J. Nelson 21 3-5 0-1 0-0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 3 -2 6
T. Allen 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
O. Asik 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
C. Diallo 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
S. Hill 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
A. Ajinca 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
C. Cooke 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
F. Jackson 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
J. Jones 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
TEAM   42-85 8-31 28-32 4 27 31 28 8 6 8 19   120
    49.4% 25.8%                      

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Barnes Lays It In

Dennis Smith Jr. passes to a cutting Harrison Barnes for the layup.

NEW ORLEANS — Watching from afar as former point guard Rajon Rondo dished out a career-high 25 assists to set a New Orleans Pelicans franchise record on Wednesday, the Dallas Mavericks know they will have to keep the pass-first floor general contained two nights later.

Led by Rondo’s playmaking, the Pelicans (18-16) surged to their third straight win overall with a 128-113 home victory over Brooklyn. Since returning to the New Orleans lineup following sports hernia surgery, the 31-year-old Rondo is averaging 6.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and 8.3 assists in 20 games. He’s also shooting 46.8 percent from the field and 35.7 percent from three-point range, adding a new dimension to the Pelicans’ offensive attack that already featured the twin towers of All-Star big men Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins inside. That said, the Dallas defense will try to keep Rondo from having another big game. But according to Mavs coach Rick Carlisle, that may be easier said than done.

“He gives them great floor leadership,” Carlisle said of Rondo’s addition to the Pelicans. “His assists numbers are ridiculously great, and they’re on a run here. Him being healthy and back in the lineup and in a groove is a big part of it.

“He’s got a great feel for his teammates,” the coach added. “He’s got two great inside targets, and they’re the No. 1 three-point shooting team in the league. So, he’s got a lot of good options. And they’re banging in shots, so it’s a very dangerous team.”

Rondo spent 46 games with the Mavericks during the 2014-15 campaign after a mid-season trade from Boston, averaging 9.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists during that span. Rondo’s knowledge of the Mavs’ playbook could now benefit the Pelicans during Friday night’s matchup, according to 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki. And with Rondo’s cerebral skills well advertised, Nowitzki says it’s essential that the Mavs play a smart game in order to leave the court with a second straight road win.

“I mean, Rondo is one of the smartest point guards that the league has ever seen. His passing is tremendous, and he thrives off passing,” Nowitzki explained. “Some guys thrive off rebounds and scoring. He loves getting assists and helping his teammates score. He’s on a great roll and shooting the ball better, so you can’t just go under every screen. He’s shooting like 36 (percent) from three, so he’s a load and he’s smart. He’ll know all of our plays, and he’s going to call them out and mess with them. He’s a smart player, and we’ve got to respect his shot and his ability to get his teammates better.”

Note: The Mavericks will now head New Orleans and continue their road trip Friday night against the Pelicans. New Orleans leads the season series 1-0 after a 99-94 win in Dallas on Nov. 3. The game will tip off at 7 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN. The game will also air in Spanish on KFLC AM 1270.

The Mavs return to their home floor next Wednesday night at American Airlines Center against the defending champion Golden State Warriors. Golden State leads the season series 2-0. The game will tip off at 7:30 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN. The game will also air in Spanish on KFLC AM 1270. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by visiting Mavs.com, or by calling (214) 747-MAVS.

Injury updates:

Dorian Finney-Smith (left knee quadriceps tendinitis) — out
Seth Curry (stress reaction, left tibia) — out
Josh McRoberts (lower extremity injury) — out
Nerlens Noel (left thumb surgery) — out

NEW ORLEANS — After capturing back-to-back wins over Eastern Conference powerhouses, the Dallas Mavericks will try to keep the momentum going Friday night against a familiar foe.

Locking in on the defensive end of the floor to secure a hard-fought 98-93 victory Tuesday night at home over the Toronto Raptors, the Mavericks (11-25) replicated that formula the following night in Indiana with a 98-94 road win over the Pacers. The Mavs also held their opponent to an average of 40.9 percent shooting during those two games, utilizing strong defensive performances to collect consecutive wins. Now, the Mavericks hope to continue locking in at the defensive end Friday night in New Orleans during a second meeting of the season against the Pelicans (18-16). And after suffering a 99-94 home loss at the hands of the Pelicans back on Nov. 3, the Mavs will be eager to return the favor.

“We were able to build off what we did (Tuesday night) in Dallas, and hopefully we carry that momentum over to New Orleans,” Mavs leading scorer Harrison Barnes matter-of-factly said following a 14-4 Dallas run to conclude Wednesday’s win. “We were on the aggressive at the offensive end, and we just kept attacking and kept slugging. You know, sometimes we can become stagnant. We have trouble a lot of times in the fourth quarter in terms of scoring and coming up short, and I thought we did a good job of just continuing to press on.”

Barnes scored 26 points on 9-of-17 shooting during the first meeting of the season against the Pelicans, grabbing six rebounds while leading the Mavericks in a losing effort. However, perennial All-Star Anthony Davis led four Pelicans in double figures with 30 points on 10-of-19 shooting, grabbing 13 rebounds to boot at the other end of the floor. The Pelicans also outshot the Mavericks for the game, 40.4 percent to 38.6 percent, converting Dallas’ 15 turnovers into 20 points and adding a 53-47 rebounding advantage behind big man DeMarcus Cousins’ monster 22 boards. That said, the Mavs know they must be better at both ends of the court in order to collect a third straight win overall and move to 2-0 on their current three-game road trip.

“Defensively is where we’ve got to do better,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle Carlisle confessed following that November loss to the Pelicans. “We battled on the boards. Salah (Mejri) gave us some really good minutes, but we’ve got to get more people involved. … On both ends we’ve just got little slippages, and we’ve just got to continue to work to clean them up.”

Note: The Mavericks will now head New Orleans and continue their road trip Friday night against the Pelicans. New Orleans leads the season series 1-0 after a 99-94 win in Dallas on Nov. 3. The game will tip off at 7 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN. The game will also air in Spanish on KFLC AM 1270.

The Mavs return to their home floor next Wednesday night at American Airlines Center against the defending champion Golden State Warriors. Golden State leads the season series 2-0. The game will tip off at 7:30 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN. The game will also air in Spanish on KFLC AM 1270. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by visiting Mavs.com, or by calling (214) 747-MAVS.

Injury updates:

Dorian Finney-Smith (left knee quadriceps tendinitis) — out
Seth Curry (stress reaction, left tibia) — out
Josh McRoberts (lower extremity injury) — out
Nerlens Noel (left thumb surgery) — out