Pelicans vs. MavericksThe New Orleans Pelicans hosted the Dallas Mavericks on both November 12 and November 14 as part of their 10 game homestand. And these two games truly proved how unpredictable the NBA can be and that, well, you win some, you lose some.
Round 1Going into the first game, the Pelicans had a 4-5 record, while the Mavericks held an 8-2 record, tying with the Denver Nuggets at first place in the West.
In the Hoops for Troops game's first quarter, New Orleans initiated a 10-2 run, resulting in the Pelicans securing a 25-20 lead with 2:08 remaining in the first period. However, the Mavericks responded by ending the first quarter with a 12-2 run, reclaiming the lead at 34-27. Although the first half was decent, messy defense let a chance at winning slip away in the third. Notably, the team's best defender, Herb Jones, was inactive due to soreness
The Mavericks turned the ball over six times, leading to six points for the Pelicans, while New Orleans had 18 turnovers that resulted in 22 points for the Mavericks. Additionally, the Mavericks outscored the Pelicans 30-13 in fast break points and 54-48 in points in the paint.
The defensive struggles led to the Pelicans giving up an opponent-season-high 136 points, with Kyrie Irving scoring 35 points--his season high. The final score was 136-124.
"We'll keep showing it, keep working on it, and keep improving. It's a long season, but it starts with our main guys. We've gotta get up and down the floor faster," said Coach Green regarding the Pelicans' lack of urgency on the floor during tough losses like this.
However, the team had to stay locked in for the rematch. "That's the beauty of the NBA," said Williamson. "We get to rematch the same team in a couple days." Williamson also commented on the struggle of trying to fit back into the Pelicans' offense this season.
The Pelicans Get Even
About regrouping and responding for Tuesday's In-Season Tournament game, Assistant Head Coach James Borrego said, "We want to come out as the more aggressive team and flip the script."
Thankfully, the Pels committed to that. The first quarter started the game off strongly, with Herb Jones back on the court. The quarter ended with an unreal over-half-court shot by Naji Marshall and a score of 33-26. At the half, the Pelicans increased their lead to 70-54, outshooting the Mavericks 53% to 38%.
While the first week of games presented third-quarter struggles, the Pels significantly expanded their lead during this third quarter with 44 points—the most they've scored in a single quarter this season. With a comfortable lead heading into the fourth, the starters got some rest, and the final score tallied at 131-110. The leading scorers of the game were rookie Jordan Hawkins and Brandon Ingram with 25 points each.
This win resulted from the team's excellent defense and their 44 fast-break points. "That's where we thrive," said Williamson. "When we're in transition, we're tough to beat."
Assistant Coach Borrego explained that they found success due to their "physicality when guarding the ball, limits on pick-and-roll points, and rotation of matchups on defense. We're more than capable [of winning] when we play the right way."
While each player turned it up a notch, becoming engaged and involved during this game, the defense of Dyson Daniels and Herb Jones was particularly beautiful to watch.
The excellent defensive "started with Dyson (Daniels)," said Willamson, "I know everybody has their own opinions but Dyson pressing up full court like that. It's not easy to make Luka (Dončić) get out of his game."
"I was just hooping out there," said Jones, "I trust my instincts. I want to give my best effort every single day."
"In my opinion, Herb should be a contender for the NBA Defender of the Year," said Assistant Coach Borrego. Overall, the guys stepped it up and showcased their talent for this stellar home-court win, moving to 1-1 in the In-Season Tournament.
"We responded to Sunday's loss the right way, and now we have to respond to tonight's win the right way," said Assistant Coach Borrego, as we'll be gearing up for our third In-Season tournament game this Friday, rematching the Denver Nuggets. Don't forget to check back with Where Y'at for all the best Pelicans coverage and game recaps. Go Pels!