The Dallas Mavericks insist that the winless New Orleans Pelicans remain dangerous.
That may especially be the case since Anthony Davis just put forth an effort that indicated that his early woes may be over.
The Mavericks will try to slow down Davis on Saturday night and continue their recent home dominance of the Pelicans, whose 0-5 start is their worst in over a decade.
These teams open a home-and-home set that concludes Tuesday in New Orleans. Dallas (2-3) has taken 11 of the last 12 home matchups, including five straight.
New Orleans is now the Western Conference’s only winless club after falling 121-115 at home to Atlanta on Friday. The Pelicans are off to their worst start since losing their first eight 11 seasons ago.
"They’re winless right now but those are the most dangerous teams," Dallas guard Deron Williams said.
Davis entered play Friday with the 20th-worst shooting percentage at 37.9 after finishing seventh in the league a season ago at 53.5.
His issues seem to be in the Pelicans’ rear-view mirror after Davis tied a career high with 43 points to go with 10 rebounds and four steals Friday.
"I thought we got A.D. loose out on the floor and in the post with a little movement so he was able to do what he does best with a little spacing," first-year Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said.
Davis averaged 30.0 points and 12.0 rebounds against Dallas last season.
"Anytime they have a player like Anthony Davis, they’re always in the hunt," Williams said.
The Pelicans are without Omer Asik (right calf strain), Norris Cole (left ankle sprain), Tyreke Evans (right knee), Kendrick Perkins (right pectoral) and Quincy Pondexter. The absences of centers Asik and Perkins have shifted Davis to that spot, though Gentry opened up his offense more Friday to accommodate the superstar.
"They’re a much better team than their record, that’s pretty obvious," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "But they’re dealing with injuries too so it’s been a challenge for them."
Carlisle has little sympathy for Gentry since Dallas is seeking to avoid its first 0-3 home start since losing its first four there in 2008-09. The Mavericks have shot 38.7 percent while suffering double-digit defeats twice at home, and they trailed by as many as 24 points in Thursday’s 108-94 loss to Charlotte.
"The simple fact is we gotta play better than we played last night," Carlisle said. "Our judgment wasn’t good, our energy wasn’t good enough. Charlotte played a very good game and we’re just going to have to do a lot better."
Williams said he is battling numerous injuries and "still trying to get my legs under me." He is averaging 12.8 points to rank second on the club behind 37-year-old Dirk Nowitzki’s 16.8 mark.
The Mavericks took three of four from the Pelicans last season but those results mean little since the departed Monta Ellis led Dallas with an average of 24.8 points in those games.