On Friday, the New Orleans Pelicans faced the Brooklyn Nets, whose 12-game winning streak ended in their previous contest.
On Saturday night, the Pelicans will visit the Dallas Mavericks, whose seven-game winning streak was snapped in their prior outing.
The Pelicans watched the visiting Nets bounce back from a loss to the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday to earn a 108-102 victory in New Orleans on Friday. Now the Pelicans must contend with the Mavericks, who matched their largest margin of defeat this season in a 124-95 home loss to the Boston Celtics on Thursday.
New Orleans led the Nets by as many as 15 points in the second quarter and was up by 11 at halftime. However, the Pelicans, playing without their top two scorers — Zion Williamson (hamstring injury) and Brandon Ingram (toe) — could not keep up on offense with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in the second half.
“You give credit to them,” New Orleans coach Willie Green said. “They came out in the second half, they picked it up, made more shots and got a bit more physical with us. I thought it affected our force and our pace in the second half.”
The Mavericks’ offense couldn’t hang with the Celtics. Dallas trailed 64-46 at halftime after making just 15 of 43 field-goal attempts (34.9 percent), including 2 of 16 from 3-point range. Boston’s bench outscored Dallas’ 27-2 in the first half.
“We just couldn’t score,” Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said. “We had some great looks early, and the ball just didn’t fall for us.”
The Mavericks finished shooting 37.8 percent from the field and 21.9 percent (7 of 32) from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, the Celtics hit 48.8 from the floor and 37.2 percent (16 of 43) from long distance.
“Obviously, they put up 124 points, which is never good,” Dallas guard Spencer Dinwiddie said. “We’ve got to bring it on the defensive end to give our team a chance to win.”
Luka Doncic averaged 41.7 points a game during the Mavericks’ winning streak but had just 23 against the Celtics. He didn’t play after Boston took a 24-point lead at the end of the third quarter.
Kidd told his players that they could take a lesson from the way the Celtics shared the ball and how their top two scorers — Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown — got their teammates involved on a night when Dallas tied its season low with 15 assists.
“We just lost to the best team in the league, and look and see how they played,” Kidd said he told his team. “The ball was shared, they executed their game plan, they did a lot of things and (that got them) to the Finals last year. Their two stars weren’t going well in the first half, but it’s a team game.”
The Pelicans are starting their longest road trip of the season, which features five games in 10 days.
“We didn’t do enough to win the (Brooklyn) game, but we can continue to build,” Green said. “We’ll need our defense to travel. … Not having all of our guys, we have a small margin of error.”
The Pelicans won their first meeting against the Mavericks this season, 113-111 on Oct. 5 in New Orleans. The teams will meet again Feb. 2 in Dallas and March 8 in New Orleans.
–Field Level Media