Final: Mavs 100, Pelicans 91
Box Score | Highlights
Behind the Box Score
Here are the plus-minuses of the Mavs’ youngsters, per the analytics team.
– Jeremy Evans: +16
– Dwight Powell: +14
– Justin Anderson: +13
The Mavs improved to 10-0 all-time when Chandler Parsons finishes with 5+ assists in a game. Dallas is simply a terrific offensive team when Parsons moves the ball effectively, as everyone becomes involved in the offense. Generally it feels like as Parsons passes more, everyone passes more; the offense seems to flow better.
So much for playing a bit slower on the second night of a back-to-back. Dallas stuck to its “Pace 21” system tonight, an effort to get the ball across halfcourt to the offensive side in three seconds or less. This puts tremendous pressure on the defense and usually leads to better offense. Coming into this game, the Mavs had scored 1.07 points per possession when the ball crossed midcourt in time, and 1.03 PPP when it didn’t. That might not seem like a huge difference, but extrapolated across an entire game, that adds up to a few extra points.
First there were good vibes last night after the Mavs pulled off one of the more improbable wins you’ll see in the league this entire season, and then there’s this win, perhaps even better. Dallas played young and it played shorthanded on the second night of a back-to-back, on the road, yet still managed to pull out a victory, evoking memories of the team’s win in Houston earlier this season. The Mavericks were staring a three-game losing streak in the face about 24 hours ago, yet now the club has won two in a row and is six games over-.500. It’s hard not to feel pumped after a win like this one.
With Dirk Nowitzki, Deron Williams, Wesley Matthews, and Zaza Pachulia all out tonight for rest, the Mavs rolled out a brand-new starting lineup. J.J. Barea, Raymond Felton, Chandler Parsons, Charlie Villanueva, and JaVale McGee got the start, with Parsons the lone typical starter dressed for the game. That unit began the game surprisingly aggressive, scoring four consecutive point-blank layups to begin the contest, half of which were by Parsons. The Mavs forward also defended New Orleans’ Anthony Davis at various times throughout the game, holding his own on many occasions. There will be times this season when the Mavs give their heavy lifters a breather, which is why Rick Carlisle’s mantra is “stay ready.” The reserves never know when they’re going to get an opportunity at some major playing time, and it’s during times like these when backups who might not get many minutes can make a positive impression on Carlisle to get another look even when the big guys are back.
The club’s second unit tonight in the first quarter included Felton, Devin Harris, Justin Anderson, Jeremy Evans, and Dwight Powell. The latter three haven’t been finding particularly steady playing time in recent weeks, so it was good to see them all with the chance to get some run and produce at a high level. Evans even broke up an alley-oop lob meant for the springy Anthony Davis, an athletic feat not many people on Earth could replicate. I liked that Felton and Harris were out there, too, as the vets provided a soothing, calming presence within the offense. Young guys sometimes tend to play a bit out of control, but those two veteran guards have the poise and floor awareness to find the right shot and work the set responsibly. Harris was especially effective with that group, scoring or assisting on 7 of 9 Mavs points to end the opening frame.
Chief among the Mavs’ most aggressive attackers was Parsons, who scored 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting in the first half alone. Nearly all his makes in the opening half came directly at the rim. He was able to get inside both on drives and on off-ball cuts. It was very nice to see Parsons attack so well and efficiently in a game when, 1. he was without his normal pick-and-roll buddy Nowitzki, and 2. it was the second night of a back-to-back, less than 24 hours after he suffered a slight hip injury that sidelined him for the last part of last night’s win over the Kings. Parsons finished with a season-high 21 points on the night.
If you don’t love JaVale McGee yet, you’re doing this whole sports fan thing wrong. McGee makes routine plays look incredible and incredible plays look routine, which is about the highest praise you can give to a pure athlete such as himself. McGee contorted himself and threw down a dunk in the third quarter the likes of which I’m not sure I’ve seen before. It was a display of pure athletic ability. He can block shots with ease and he challenges any shot within five feet. After missing a ton of games during the last couple years due to a stress fracture in his leg, McGee admits he’s still not to full strength. But it’s tough to imagine how much more productive he could become once he gets there.
The Mavs (21-15) play the Milwaukee Bucks (14-23) Friday at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Tip-off is at 7 p.m. Central.
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