Anthony Davis and Demarcus Cousins are, in some ways, polar opposites. Where Davis is humble and reserved, Boogie is emotional and loud. Where Cousins’ game is powerful and bullish, Davis’ game is smooth and refined. But one thing they do have in common: they are both superstar basketball talents, and those talents were on display in the Mavs’ 121-118 loss in New Orleans on Wednesday.
In terms of raw ability, is perhaps the most gifted front-court pairing since Tim Duncan and David Robinson manned the front lines for the Spurs in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Those kinds of lofty expectations will be unavoidable for Davis and Cousins, and so far, they are far from achieving all of that promise.
Here, however, they may have given us a glimpse of what they can become in the future, if the Pelicans front office can improve their surroundings.
The pair was dynamite, dominating the Mavs in every sense of the term. In a game-high 40 minutes of play, Cousins scored 29 points, grabbed 16 boards and dished out six assists, all while shooting 9-of-19 from the field, and 10-of-12 from the line. Davis, meanwhile, was every bit as good as his running mate, adding 30 points, 13 boards and two steals on 11-of-21 shooting. Davis is the first player since Shaq in 2000 to go for 30-plus points and 13-plus rebounds in four consecutive games.
The pair was also supplemented by 18 from Jrue Holiday, as well as a combined 35 points from their three-man bench of Dante Cunningham (15), E’Twaun Moore (five), and Jordan Crawford (15).
The Mavs nearly equaled the Pelicans offensive outburst, gaining major contributions from the returning Seth Curry (18 points), Harrison Barnes (19 points on 6-of-15 shootings) and Yogi Ferrell (15 bench points). Dirk Nowitzki had the best outing of the bunch however, scoring 23 on 50-percent shooting to go with seven boards.
Both teams shot the lights out, with New Orleans finishing above 50 percent from the floor, and 40 percent from three, while Dallas was 48 percent from the field, and 51.9 percent from beyond the arc.
Both teams also played clean, efficient basketball while combining for 51 assists and only 11 turnovers total between the two.
To put it succinctly, despite the Mavericks’ loss and their overall circumstances, it was an enjoyable game basketball game to watch.
“They made difficult shots,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said of the Pels. “I give them a lot of credit. They earned the win, because in the second half we really played our butts off.”
Neither team will likely make the postseason at this point, but both played with tremendous effort and tenacity, which is something you don’t always see from non-playoff teams at this point in the year.
The loss (decided, in the end, by an errant 3 from Wesley Matthews at the buzzer) moves Dallas to 31-43 on the year, half-a-game back of New Orleans for the 10th spot in the West standings with a trip to Beale Street and a Friday date with the Memphis Grizzlies on the docket. Dallas will have to contend with yet another All-NBA caliber tandem in Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, who will be battling with the Clippers and Thunder for playoff positioning moving forward.
The Mavs will likely do this while continuing to battle on the court — no one would argue that the usually mild-mannered Devin Harris didn’t show fight as he was ejected after a collision and an argument with the officials — and while continuing to experiment their way down the stretch.
If that means Devin must be a fireball — “I (usually) keep my temper managed,’’ he said, “but I just sort of lost it. … I don’t like getting elbowed in the face and get called for the foul at the same time’’ — then so be it.
If that means that the little-used Dwight Powell gets 14 minutes and that undrafted rookie (and newly-signed) Jarrod Uthoff gets to score his first NBA bucket? Well, that works, too, as Dallas might find itself with a top-nine pick in June’s NBA Draft.