Mavs Rapid Fire: An 'Annoying' Home Loss To Pelicans

'I don't know,' Wes Matthews said in review of Pelicans 105, Mavs 98. ''This is annoying, though.' Yup. And Mavs Rapid Fire is the same. Annoying. Annoyed. Whatever.

1. The Mavs walked into the American Airlines Center on Saturday afternoon ready to wipe the slate clean after a brutal 106-82 Loss to the Miami Heat on New Years Day. Hassan Whiteside roasted Dallas for 25 points and 19 boards in a game that Dallas was glad it wouldn't have to sit on for very long. A back-to-back is usually a rough deal for most NBA teams, but in this instance for the Mavs it is a blessing in disguise. ...

Or, not. The Mavs fall into an 0-2 hole to start 2016 with this embarrassing l105-98 loss to the lowly Pelicans.

                         

2. The Mavs got off to a much better start in this one than they did on Friday, but still trailed the Pelicans 26-25 heading into the second quarter. Deron Williams was the Mavs' leading man in the first with nine points, with Anthony Davis leading New Orleans with eight points and five rebounds.  ... and what AD did would be a sign to come.

3. Dallas’s offense had been on fire during the four-game win streak up until the loss to Miami. While it could be argued that Miami is one of, if not the, best defensive team in the NBA, Dallas looked out of sorts in that loss. Here against New Orleans, the Mavs struggles' seemed to resurface after the end of the first quarter, as they became a little bit complacent on the offensive end as the game moved along. 

4. Zaza Pachulia just keeps chugging along. He would finish the game with 14 points and nine boards in 25 minutes of action against a pretty stout combo of Asik and Perkins. Zaza would fail to secure a rebound in the entire fourth quarter however, as it seemed like the Pelicans couldn’t miss a shot down the stretch. 

5. J.J. Barea drew his sixth start in a row with D-Will still trying to inch his way back into the starting rotation. Over that stretch, the Mavs have thrived off of Barea’s energy, and when he has struggled, they have struggled as well. 

6. The second period ended with the Mavs trailing the Pelicans by a score of 48-47 after a quarter that saw both teams play to a stalemate of 22 points. Deron was held scoreless in the quarter, but Ray Felton would fill the void, scoring nine points of his own to go along with three rebounds and two assists. Pachulia also had a nice first half with six points and seven boards, while the Big German would contribute eight of his own. ... even on a night that would not really be "his night.''

                           

7. Dirk did everything he could to keep the Mavs in the game, but it just wasn’t enough. Dirk ended up with 24 points, but couldn’t really find any help offensively until Wes Matthews hit a couple of late threes. He may still be the best player on the team, but at 37 years old, he can’t be expected to do it all on his own. And his shooting isn't as pure as usual at the moment, meaning he is laboring to help his team and laboring to help himself.

8. The Pelicans are a young and athletic bunch that can really score when their offense is clicking. When healthy (which they haven’t been for most of the year), this team has the potential to be a player in the Western Conference. Unfortunately for them, a series of injuries to a lot of key players has kept this team from finding its stride. 

9. Perhaps the most important addition to the Pelicans lineup to return from injury has been point guard Jrue Holiday. When healthy, Holiday is an elite level defender that plays very well off the pick-and-roll and does well to find his teammates in scoring positions. The biggest problem for Holiday so far in his time in NOLA has been his ability to stay healthy. He has had a history of leg injuries that has slowed him down in previous years, and this year hasn’t been much different. His return to the lineup gives New Orleans a much more dynamic offensive attack.

10. A big part of the Pelicans success the last time they faced the Mavs was the play of power forward Ryan Anderson, who was averaging 23 points and 10 rebounds against the Mavs coming into Saturday’s game. Anderson is a stretch-4 whose style of play has given the Mavs fits in their previous two matchups, with his ability to shoot from downtown. In this game, Anderson would end up with another solid outing, scoring 16 points and pulling down eight boards.

11. Dallas fell into a bit of a hole in the third quarter, with New Orleans outscoring the Mavs 26-19. Davis started to take over the game in this quarter, as he had 20 points and 11 rebounds heading into the fourth. The Mavs just couldn’t find any consistency and looked to be a bit out of sorts, as they shot just 42 percent through the first three quarters.  

12. Dwight Powell was a non-factor in this game, scoring just two points in nine minutes and failing to secure a single rebound. 

13. Man, Anthony Davis is special. He may not get as much attention as Steph Curry and LeBron, but if you had to pick one player in the NBA to build around over the next 6-7 years, Davis would garner some serious consideration in that discussion. Here, Davis punished the Mavs for 31 points and 14 rebounds on 13-of-22 shooting. 

Said Dallas coach Rick Carlisle of AD and Anderson when asked if they "hurt'' the Mavs: ”I’d say 31 and 14 is 'hurting' us, yes.  Anderson got a couple of calls and I haven’t looked at the replays but I am not going to give away $35,000 right now if it is all the same to you.”

Translation: Dallas didn't like the way the zebras rolled here. But make no mistake; that's not why the Mavs lost.

Or is it, Dirk?

"He didn't hit him,'' said Nowitzki of a call on Zaza fouling Anderson on a drive. "To me, that's game right there. It's almost under a minute and it goes from three (points) to five and your basically reaching to get back in the game. I was just telling (the ref): if you make that call, you got to be a thousand-percent sure he hit him. Other than that, you just blew the game.

"Obviously, that's emotion speaking. One (call) doesn't really win or lose the game, just like one shot doesn't win or lose the game. It's 48 minutes. We made mistakes, brutal passes. But that was a tough call. I told him, that's like me missing a buzzer-beater. We're getting criticized on that."

We fully understands Nowitzki's point. But his most accurate point is about that "buzzer-beater''; sometimes you don't need to hit buzzer-beaters if you make some of the shots in the previous 47 minutes.

14. Deron left the game in the third quarter with tightness in his hamstring. His versatility and defense was obviously missed late in this game. When healthy, he is the Mavs closer and his absence was a big factor. 

                    

15. Wes Matthews always seems to step up -- or at least try -- when Dallas is in need of a big push in a close game. He hit some big shots in the fourth quarter that helped Dallas close the deficit, and finished the game with 18 points on 53.8-percent shooting.

16. In the end, the Mavs just couldn’t get the stops they needed when it counted and New Orleans took full advantage. When it comes down to it, you just can’t lose to a 10-22 team at home in a tough Western Conference. ... especially a team that has virtually no experience winning in this building. Two straight losses are obviously not how the Mavs wanted to begin the 2016, but with a stretch of winnable games coming up, Dallas has a chance to rebound moving forward. 

Stat(s) of the night: Losing the battle in the paint. The Mavs were dominated 53-33 on the boards in this game, with the Pelicans also outscoring Dallas in the Paint by eight points. 

This game was over when... Jrue Holiday beat J.J. Barea one on one and hit a layup to put the Pelicans up five with 10 seconds to go in thee game. Oh, and regarding the NOLA backcourt here: everybody is leaving out Norris Cole. The journeyman guard scored 16 points with a career-high 12 rebounds.

Should have seen coming... Anthony Davis. He’s a monster and arguably the most talented player on the planet. 

Couldn't see coming... Lack of energy. The Pelicans only played eight players in this game, and they still looked like the more energetic team for the majority of the night. 

What's next?: The Mavs will welcome Rajon Rondo and the Sacramento Kings to the AAC on January 5th at 7:30 PM. In their previous meeting, the Kings easily defeated the Mavs 112-98 thanks to a monstrous 31 points from Boogie Cousins. And listen, I know DB.com has a lot of venom stored up for Rondo ... but Mavs Nation probably needs to mostly concern itself with the home team here.

                    

The Final Word:  ''I don't know. This is annoying, though. We didn't play well in Miami, and we didn't play well in too many stretches here.'' - Wes Matthews.


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