NEW ORLEANS – It was not a very good night at the office on Wednesday for the Dallas Mavericks. It was, in fact, an excruciatingly painful night.
The wheels fell completely off the Mavs’ bus, and the engine was also missing, as Dallas dropped a 132-106 decision to the New Orleans Pelicans before 14,810 folks at Smoothie King Center.
Needless to say, this was the worst loss of the season for the Mavs (12-11) and also were the most points they’ve allowed in a game this year. In addition, it tarnished the paint on the Mavs’ defense as the Pelicans shot 55.4 percent from the field and 58.6 percent (17 of 29) from 3-point territory.
“We couldn’t get it going from start to finish,” said Harrison Barnes, who finished with a team-high 16 points. “It’s tough to win games when you have a team that’s shooting over 50 percent from the field and almost 60 percent from three.”
It’s also tough to win games when a team gives up 30-plus points in three of the four quarters, which is what happened to the Mavs. The Pelicans scored 32 points in the first quarter, 37 in the second quarter and 35 more in the fourth quarter in blowing by the Mavs, who appeared a step slower after playing Tuesday night at home against Portland.
Granted, the Mavs were without point guard Dennis Smith Jr., the architect of their fast-paced offense. Smith aggravated his sprained right wrist very late in the game against Portland, and wasn’t healthy enough to play against the Pelicans.
“Especially like a late scratch like that, it’s tough,” J. J. Barea said. “You’ve got to change everything.
“It’s a different game when he’s not out there, especially at the beginning. The pace that he was playing lately, he was playing hard lately, and then you’ve got Luka (Doncic) off the ball.”
Doncic started at point guard and ran the offense and finished with eight points, four rebounds and six assists. Meanwhile, the Mavs got punched in the gut by the one-two combination of Plano native Julius Randle (27 points, 18 rebounds) and Anthony Davis (27 points, nine assists, five blocks).
Between the two, they were the main reasons New Orleans outscored the Mavs in the paint, 60-48. Also, the Pelicans outscored the Mavs in fast break points, 29-14.
“Transition was the big thing for us all night, and keeping them out of the paint,” Barnes said. “They were living in there.”
Actually, the Mavs only trailed 32-31 after the first quarter during a time when they committed seven of their 18 turnovers. But the Pelicans seemingly scored on every possession in the second quarter as they toted an insurmountable 69-53 lead into the locker room.
“It was just a bad day, a bad game,” Doncic said. “We didn’t do our jobs, so just move on to the next one.”
In looking completely out of sync, the loss continued a worrisome trend for the Mavs, who have a terrific 10-2 record at home, but are only 2-9 on the road.
“At the very beginning of the game we were in pretty good position, and then turnovers plagued us and ruined any chance to get out of (the first quarter) with a lead,” Carlisle said. “We were within one point, and then in the second quarter giving up 37 points was a killer.”
Besides Barnes, Wesley Matthews (15 points), Barea (14 points), Dorian Finney-Smith (12 points), Dwight Powell (12 points, 10 boards, two blocks) and Jalen Brunson (11 points, seven assists, two steals) were the major contributors for the Mavs.
Still, that wasn’t nearly enough to keep up with the Pelicans.
“We’ve got to do a better job of playing with a lot more energy and playing better defense,” Barea said. “I think tonight we just didn’t have it, energy-wise.
“But give them a lot of credit.”
About the only thing noteworthy occurred with 8:56 remaining in the game. That was right after Powell stormed in for a dunk, was hit in the face by Davis, but no foul was called.
That infuriated Carlisle, who subsequently received a technical foul for protesting too vehemently to the referees. Other than that, this game dragged on and on and had no energy in it from the Mavs’ perspective.
For now, the Mavs just want to have a short-term memory as they’ll play the Houston Rockets on Saturday at 5 p.m.
“Throw it out the window,” Barea said. “You’ve got to let it go and move on and get ready for Saturday.
“We’ve got a great opportunity to win that one at home, and remember when we play these guys again, remember what we’ve got to do.”
NOTES: Before Wednesday’s game, coach Rick Carlisle was asked about the Mavs being only one game in the loss column from sitting in the Western Conference’s No. 4 seat. “It just says the defense is working and we got to continue with the same kind of enthusiasm for it, commitment to it,” Carlisle said. “You can’t get too caught up looking at the standings. In the Western Conference every game is going to have significant meaning all year long. That’s just the way it is. That’s one of the great things about being out here. A lot of people complain about it, but there’s no bigger challenge in the NBA right now than playing in the West and being in that cluster of teams always trying to scratch and claw your way up a spot or two.”. .A reporter asked Carlisle before the game about the success the Mavs have had over the last three weeks. “I’m not big into analyzing what’s going on three weeks ago,” Carlisle said. “I know what works in this league is tough defense and efficient offense. We’ve picked up our defense during this period, which has been essential to winning any games. And now we got to continue it.”. .Carlisle noticed how the players on his team are always pulling for each other’s success, adding that that’s a recipe for success. “Teams that make sacrifices individually come together as a group,” Carlisle said. “That’s really what it’s all about. On Sunday (against the LA Clippers) we had (Dennis Smith Jr.’s) teeth on the floor, (J. J.) Barea’s lip all busted up. Smith’s tooth got knocked on the floor, he stayed in the game for the jump ball, and then he came back and made the game-winning play. These are things that bring teams together. I don’t love the fact of losing teeth and things like that, but the spirit has been great. And we’ve got to do everything possible to continue it.”. . .Dennis Smith Jr. told Mavs.com it’s too early to tell if he’ll be ready to play in Saturday’s game against Houston. . .Luka Doncic said when he played in the EuroLeague, his teams very rarely had games on back-to-back nights. The Mavs are now 0-3 on the second night of a back-to-back.