Mavericks at New Orleans Pelicans
(8 p.m. Saturday, Smoothie King Center, New Orleans)
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
Radio: ESPN 103.3 FM (Univision 1270 AM, Spanish)
About the Mavericks (23-20): This is almost like an extension of a long, long road trip. Allow Rick Carlisle to explain: “We’re in the midst of one of the really unusual trips I’ve ever been on in 19 or 20 years of head coaching and 30-some years of playing or coaching. It’s six days, we’re home for a day and a half, then we go back on the road and play five games. Really unusual and really challenging. We’ve got to stick together. We got a high density of games coming up. We just got to keep fighting through it.” To recap, after three games in six days last week, they came home for the Indiana game on Friday and now start the five-game trip in New Orleans. They will be in Oklahoma City on Monday before heading to the East Coast . . . The Mavericks hope to have Luka Dončić back for this game after he missed Friday’s loss to Indiana with lower-back tightness. “Hopefully Luka will be able to play tomorrow night,” Carlisle said. “If not, it’ll be next man up, again.” . . . The Mavericks have won five in a row against the Pelicans, including a 143-130 victory in February in Dallas . . . In that game, Dončić and Kristaps Porzingis combined for 82 points. Luka had a career-best 46 and Porzingis added 36 . . . The Mavericks may have newcomer Nicolo Melli in uniform after acquiring him from New Orleans in a trade that became official Friday. They will not have sharpshooter J.J. Redick, who will continue rehab on a right heel issue.
About the Pelicans (19-25): They also played on Friday night, dropping a 113-108 decision to the Denver Nuggets in New Orleans. In that game, Zion Williamson had 39 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Williamson has quickly emerged as a young superstar. The 6-7, 280-pounder is averaging 26 points per game and shooting better than 62 percent from the field . . . The Mavericks may see new Pelicans James Johnson and Wes Iwundu, the players they traded to New Orleans to get Redick and Melli . . . Guard Lonzo Ball missed Friday’s game with a hip flexor and his status is uncertain for the Mavericks’ game . . . The Pels are 28th in the NBA in defensive efficiency and next-to-last in 3-point defense, allowing opponents to hit better than 39 percent from beyond the arc . . . They are, however, a very strong rebounding team, averaging six more boards per game than their opponents thanks to center Steven Adams, Williamson and Willy Hernangomez . . . They have one of the youngest cores in the league with Brandon Ingram (23) averaging 24 points per game in addition to the 20-year-old Williamson and Ball, who is 23 . . . Before losing to the Nuggets, the Pelicans had several nice victories in recent games against the LA Lakers, Denver and the LA Clippers.