The Dallas Mavericks’ past two games have been their highest-scoring performances of the young season.
Dallas will try to keep the points coming when it visits the struggling New Orleans Pelicans for an in-season tournament game on Tuesday night.
The Mavericks rolled past the Pelicans 136-124 on Sunday night at New Orleans. Their point total was second to a 144-126 home victory against the Los Angeles Clippers two nights earlier.
Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving have led the way, as Doncic has averaged 37 points and Irving has averaged 31 in the past two games.
“Everyone is being unselfish,” Dallas coach Jason Kidd said. “When you look at Luka and Ky, Ky didn’t have to finish the Clipper game, and Luka did not have to finish (the game against the Pelicans).
“So, I thought our two leaders set the tone — just unselfish, playing with the pass, and then our pace is different than what we are used to. So, the guys have really bought into it and trusted that we can play faster and also play with the pass. So, you saw that (in the past two games).”
The Mavericks had just six turnovers against the Pelicans, leading to six points, and scored 22 points off 18 New Orleans turnovers.
“It makes the game easier for everyone. Between the two guys who handle the ball most to only have three turnovers, it puts a lot of pressure on the defense,” Kidd said. “We’re getting good looks. Those two are getting good looks. It was a good night.”
Dallas is 1-1 and New Orleans is 0-1 in West Group B in the in-season tournament.
The Pelicans, who have lost five consecutive games overall after a 4-1 start to the season, gave up their most points this season in the loss to the Mavericks, who made 20 3-pointers. Dallas also had a 30-13 edge in fastbreak points.
“We’ve got to get up and down the floor faster,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. “We only had two fastbreak points in the first half, so we’ve got to get some easy baskets, especially with guys being out.”
New Orleans is missing two starters — CJ McCollum (lung) and Herbert Jones (bruised fibula) — but the three healthy starters all shot better than 50 percent against Dallas — Brandon Ingram (9 of 17), Zion Williamson (7 of 11) and Jonas Valanciunas (6 of 11).
But they couldn’t overcome defensive lapses that helped the Mavericks lead by as many as 25 points before both benches took over in the fourth quarter. Dallas led by as much as 29 in the fourth.
Forward Naji Marshall, one of the team’s better defensive players, made his season debut on Sunday after being sidelined by a knee contusion.
“We’ve just got to bring the energy (on defense),” Marshall said. “We’ve got to play harder and make the game harder for (Doncic and Irving). Hopefully I can bring a spark back to the defense.”
The Pelicans have allowed an average of 123.8 points during their losing streak after allowing an average of 108.6 during the first five games.
“Guys are definitely more willing to listen, more willing to learn,” New Orleans center Cody Zeller said. “Any team I’ve been on, when you go on a five-game losing streak, guys want to get it right. We’re all competitive. We want to get it fixed quickly, but not just for one game.”
–Field Level Media
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