Nighly Notable – Dirk Nowitzki
Dirk Nowitzki scores a season-high 40 points shooting 50% from the field and hitting 5 of 9 from downtown in a home victory over the Pelicans.
DALLAS — Following their dominant 107-90 win in New Orleans Friday night, the Dallas Mavericks didn’t have to spend much time preparing for their next game.
That’s because just 24 hours later the Mavericks were right back in action against the same short-handed Pelicans team, looking to take a 3-0 edge in the season series against their Southwest Division rival as the home-and-home set swung to American Airlines Center.
But, while playing the final outing of a four-in-five-nights stretch, the Mavs would come out with tired legs. And after needing every bit of 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki’s vintage 40-point performance, the Mavericks (22-16) found a way to send the Pelicans (15-21) to a fifth straight defeat after a 110-107 victory.
“[The Pelicans] played hard tonight,” Nowitzki said after the victory. “I mean, they keep competing, they’re well-coached, and this was definitely a tough game for us. It’s always tough to beat a team twice in a row back-to-back, so we’re happy with the win.”
Still playing without four-time All-Star Shawn Marion (bruised upper ribs and right shoulder contusion) and swingman Wayne Ellington (illness), the Mavericks hoped to get a boost from second-year standout Jae Crowder once again as he remained in the starting lineup following his career-high 40 minutes Friday night. Meanwhile, the Pelicans continued to take the court minus leading scorer Ryan Anderson (herniated disk) and starting point guard Jrue Holiday (stress fracture in his right tibia).
Pelicans vs. Mavericks
Dirk Nowitzki scores 40 points shooting 50% from the field and Monta Ellis adds 26 points to put the Mavericks over the Pelicans 110-107.
Keeping Crowder and center Samuel Dalembert in the first unit for the second straight night, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle expected to see his team get off to a fast start. However, after starting Friday’s win with an 11-4 run, the Mavs relinquished the first five points of the night to the Pelicans in the opening quarter while missing nine straight shot attempts to begin the game.
And after just a 2-of-17 shooting quarter, the Mavs found themselves down 22-17 through the first 12 minutes of play.
Attempting 14 free throws in the first period to stay in the game, the Mavs quickly got a boost from Nowitzki in the second stanza as the 7-footer’s four-point play brought the home team within three. An up-and-under score by starting shooting guard Monta Ellis followed, putting the Mavs up 30-28.
Ellis then took advantage of backup big man Brandan Wright’s block of former No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis on the defensive end, sprinting down court to convert a three-point play. A 3-pointer by point guard Jose Calderon gave the Mavs a spark from there, entering the halftime break with a 42-37 advantage.
Despite shooting just 27.3 percent to the Pelicans’ 32.4 percent through two quarters, the Mavericks held the slight lead at the midway mark as Nowitzki and Ellis combined for 25 first-half points. Meanwhile, the Mavs shot 24 free throws in the half, neutralizing New Orleans’ 28-21 rebounding edge and 20-10 margin in points in the paint.
Postgame: Monta Ellis
Mavs G Monta Ellis comments on Dirk's 40-point performance against the Pelicans, how the defense tried to contain his penetration and more.
“It looked in the first half like the fourth game in five nights for both teams,” Nowitzki said. “You know, we had good looks. Nothing just really seemed to go in or they rolled out. So, we figured it was going to be a grind-out sort of game and we talked about it at halftime. The next thing you know the basket just opened up on both sides.”
“It can be like that when you’ve got four games in five nights, but we stuck with it and found a way to pull the game out,” Ellis added. “We became more aggressive and more locked in, in the second half.”
After a sluggish first half, the Mavericks would come out of the locker room clicking on all cylinders thanks to back-to-back 3-pointers by Calderon and Nowitzki. Dalembert then provided a presence in the interior while Nowitzki took care of matters from the perimeter.
And behind Nowitzki’s 20 third-quarter points, the Mavs slid into the fourth period with an 84-77 lead.
“I figured somebody’s got to get going in here,” Nowitzki later joked. “We shot like nine percent in the first quarter for the most part. … I found some areas there in the second half, especially in the third quarter, where I could get my shot off. In the first half, they played me really tight and I didn’t really have any good looks.”
But the momentum wouldn’t last long as the Pelicans charged within one thanks to a 6-0 spurt to open the final 12 minutes of play. Meanwhile, with rookie point guard Shane Larkin ruled out the rest of the way due to a sprained right ankle, Nowitzki looked to his teammates for assistance in keeping the visitors at bay.
Postgame: Jose Calderon
Mavs PG Jose Calderon weighs in on the back-to-back wins over the Pelicans, how much fatigue has played a factor and more.
However, Davis’ back-to-back scores to put the Pelicans up three, 95-92, left just 6:04 for the Mavs to respond. But, with Nowitzki on the bench resting, the Mavs would in fact respond, turning defensive stops into offensive scores to tie the game at 97-all on Calderon’s trey with 4:30 remaining.
Nowitzki then returned to the court, baiting Jason Smith into a foul on a 3-point attempt and making all three subsequent free throws to give the Mavericks a 104-99 edge with 2:57 left to play. Ellis followed suit, fouling out Eric Gordon with a transition score the next time down the floor.
Not to be done in so easily, the Pelicans once again charged back, making it a 106-104 score on Davis’ 2-for-2 trip to the foul line with 18.1 ticks left on the game clock. Nowitzki then calmly nailed two free throws with 17.1 seconds left, giving him his first 40-point game since reaching that mark against Utah on April 16, 2012.
However, with Darius Miller connecting on a 3-pointer to bring the Pelicans within one as 11.2 seconds remained, Carlisle was forced to burn his last timeout. Calderon then connected on two more free throws to finish the scoring with 9.0 seconds left, before Ellis secured the game with a defensive stand on Austin Rivers as time expired.
Finishing with a season-high 40 points on 10-of-20 shooting and 5 of 9 from 3-point range, Nowitzki also connected on 15 of 16 at the foul line.
Dirk Nowitzki steals the ball from Eric Gordon and takes it in for the layup but draws the foul.
“I don’t know where I found it in the second half today. The first half wasn’t pretty. I think what kind of helped me was getting to the free-throw line,” Nowitzki modestly explained. “I shot 16 free throws tonight, which is not normal for this year anymore. … For me, seeing some shots go through from the free-throw line I guess helped me find my rhythm.”
“He’s a great one,” Carlisle added in regard to Nowitzki’s night. “He knew that we needed a lift. Last night, we shot it well from the beginning of the game. His spacing is a big part of our offensive attack. They were late getting to him a few times. The threes that he hit when we were struggling to start the second half, and then he got fouled on one or two of them, were just massive, massive plays.”
Ellis added 26 points and Calderon pitched in 17 points in the first unit. Sixth man Vince Carter made it four Mavericks in double figures with 10 points off the bench.
“For [Nowitzki] to come out and give us that lift tonight really opened up a lot for us as a team with me and Jose driving and finding other people. They had to switch their defense up,” Ellis explained.
Meanwhile, Davis led five Pelicans in double figures with 28 points on 10-of-17 shooting, adding 14 rebounds. The Pelicans also outshot the Mavs on the night, 48.1 percent to 44.8 percent, adding a 48-30 rebounding advantage, 44-32 margin in the paint and 19-2 edge in second-chance points.
The Mavs did, however, convert the Pelicans’ 19 turnovers into 22 points at the other end, committing 14 giveaways of their own for 17 New Orleans points.
“We’re not happy with the defense in the second half, but we found a way to win,” Nowitzki concluded. “Now, we can rest a little bit tomorrow. Four games in five nights is never easy. I don’t care who you are. So, we get a little bit of rest tomorrow and we’ll be sharp hopefully Monday.”
Note: The Mavericks return to American Airlines Center on Monday, hosting the Orlando Magic. The Mavs lead the season series 1-0 after a win 108-100 win in Orlando back on Nov. 16. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting Mavs.com.
New Orleans Pelicans
|Al-Farouq Aminu, F||35||15||2||0||0||11||10||1||4||3||-10||6-9||0-0||3-3|
|Anthony Davis, F||39||28||2||0||0||14||8||6||1||4||2||10-17||0-0||8-10|
|Jason Smith, C||18||10||0||0||0||7||5||2||1||6||0||3-6||0-0||4-5|
|Eric Gordon, G||37||20||3||2||0||3||1||2||8||6||-9||7-14||3-6||3-4|
|Brian Roberts, G||31||7||8||2||0||3||3||0||1||2||-3||2-10||0-3||3-3|
|Jae Crowder, F||34||5||3||4||1||2||1||1||1||4||2||1-5||1-4||2-2|
|Dirk Nowitzki, F||33||40||4||2||0||4||4||0||1||2||11||10-20||5-9||15-16|
|Samuel Dalembert, C||23||4||1||0||0||9||7||2||0||3||4||2-4||0-0||0-0|
|Monta Ellis, G||41||26||4||1||0||5||5||0||5||3||9||7-13||0-1||12-15|
|Jose Calderon, G||35||17||5||1||0||2||1||1||2||3||4||5-10||4-7||3-4|
DALLAS — After getting back on track two nights following a disappointing outing in San Antonio on Wednesday, the Dallas Mavericks will now try to continue their home-court dominance over the New Orleans Pelicans.
Beginning their home-and-home set against the banged-up Pelicans (15-20) with a 107-90 runaway victory Friday in New Orleans, the Mavericks (21-16) will now look to complete the back-to-back with another dominant performance at American Airlines Center. The Mavs have won 17 of their last 19 regular-season home matchups against the New Orleans franchise since it relocated from Charlotte before the 2002-03 season. Saturday, the Dallas team will also go for a sixth straight win over the Pelicans overall, after responding to Wednesday’s 112-90 defeat in San Antonio with a virtuoso performance.
“It was a good way to recover,” 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki said of the win after leading the way with 24 points. “We definitely needed to feel better again after really an embarrassing loss on the road. This was a good one to get.”
“I think even in the San Antonio game we had a lot of open looks that just didn’t go down. … We were just on (Friday) and we took advantage of the defense and how they were playing,” starting shooting guard Monta Ellis added after finishing with 23 points and eight assists in the victory.
Despite Eric Gordon’s game-high 27 points on 9-of-13 shooting, the Mavericks finished the night outshooting the Pelicans, 52.6 percent to 45 percent. The Mavs also added a 39-38 rebounding edge and 25 points off the Pelicans’ 18 turnovers, overcoming New Orleans’ 52-32 margin in points in the paint with a season-high 14 made 3-pointers on 28 attempts.
Without the services of four-time All-Star Shawn Marion (bruised upper ribs and right shoulder contusion) for a second straight game, the Mavs were further handicapped when they learned just before the opening tipoff that an illness would also keep swingman Wayne Ellington out of the lineup Friday night. Meanwhile, the short-handed Pelicans took the court with both leading scorer Ryan Anderson (herniated disk) and starting point guard Jrue Holiday (stress fracture in his right tibia) out indefinitely.
And as both teams try to remain afloat in the ever-changing Western Conference playoff picture, Saturday’s Southwest Division showdown could go a long way towards separating the squads in the standings as the Mavs try to take a 3-0 lead in the season series.
“This is a mini playoff series, so they’ll adjust (Saturday) and we’re going to have to look at some things we can do better,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “It’s big for both teams. I mean, they’re trying to stay in the hunt without a couple of their guns and we’re trying to gain ground without a couple of our guns. This is what it is and every game in this league is extremely competitive.”
Note: The Mavericks return to American Airlines Center on Saturday to complete their home-and-home series against the Pelicans. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting Mavs.com.