Here are my 5 takeaways from the Dallas Mavericks’ 132-106 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night at the Smoothie King Center:
1. SMITH’S ABSENCE WAS FELT: It’s difficult not having your starting point guard and think things will be the same. The Mavs were without Dennis Smith Jr. for this game due to an aggravated sprained right wrist, and his mercurial speed and attacking mindset was sorely missed. Since he is one of the fastest players in the NBA from baseline to baseline – if not the fastest – it’s absolutely no way for any other player on this team to simulate what Smith does on the floor. Thus, his uncanny way of bringing an up-tempo flavor to the game was definitely missed.
2. POWELL STRIKES AGAIN: Dwight Powell continues to prove that he can be a dominant backup center or forward in this league. In 24 minutes – which is half the game – Powell produced 12 points, 10 rebounds and two blocked shots against the Pelicans. Calculated over the course of a 48-minute game, that’s 24 points, 20 rebounds and four blocks. Either statistical conclusion shows that when he’s on the court, Powell is always very active and busy being very productive.
3. ONE OF THOSE DAYS: It’s the NBA. Blowouts happen. Check your favorite team. Anywhere from 3-7 of these happen to nearly every team per year. Back-to-back games – which I despise – play a role in it. As do injuries to key players and an odd travel schedule. However, there are also days when one team just gets super hot and the other team gets super cold. That happened Wednesday as the Pelicans shot 55.4 percent from the field and 58.6 percent from 3-point land, while the Mavs shot 42.9 percent from the field and 30.4 percent from 3-point range.
4. THEY GET AWAY QUICKLY: If you’re not extremely careful, an NBA game can get away from you quickly. One minute you’re leading by a point two possessions from the end of the first quarter. And the next minute you’re giving up 37 points in the second quarter and trailing 69-53 at the half. Such was the case with the Mavs against the Pelicans. New Orleans went on to score 28 points in the third quarter – the only quarter in which it did not score at least 32 points – and add another 35 points in the fourth quarter.
5. ENERGY WAS LACKING: From the start, even though the Mavs tallied 31 points in the first quarter, you could tell something was amiss. If was as if the Mavs lacked the necessary energy that’s always there when they’re playing at American Airlines Center. Perhaps they need to find a way to generate their own energy when they’re away from home. The Mavs are 10-2 at home, but only 2-9 on the road. It’s almost as if the ball has a different bounce to it, and the rims are higher than 10 feet when they’re on the road.