Doncic's triple-double lifts Mavericks over Pelicans 123-116
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — As he watched his late, rainbow 3-pointer drop in off the glass, Luka Doncic skipped backward toward the defensive end for the Dallas Mavericks with a snarl on his face and clenched fists lowered near each hip.
"He makes those shots. He's wild," teammate Kristaps Porzingis said. "At the end of the game, he was really clutch."
Doncic highlighted his triple-double by scoring eight of his 25 points in the final five minutes, and the Mavericks topped New Orleans 123-116 in the Pelicans' home opener Friday night.
Doncic also had 10 rebounds and 10 assists, while Porzingis added 24 points and five blocks to help Dallas start 2-0 for the first time since the 2004-05 season.
"Everybody's happy after this win, but it's just the start," Doncic said, adding he wants to see the Mavs in the playoff hunt come April. "We've got to keep it going."
Delon Wright scored 18 points, effectively finding close-range shots with decisive cuts and drives to the hoop, and highlighted a strong defensive outing with a late steal.
"He played an amazing game," Doncic said. "He was the key to our win."
Brandon Ingram led New Orleans with 25 points after scoring 22 in a loss at defending NBA champion Toronto in overtime to open the season Tuesday night.
The game was tied at 109 after Ingram's jumper with about five minutes left, but Doncic responded with a jumper while being fouled by Jrue Holiday to start a six-point mini-run capped by Jalen Brunson's turnaround near the baseline that made it 115-109.
New Orleans missed five straight 3-pointers before Ingram finally hit one to make it 115-112. Doncic's right-handed runner in the lane over a crowd of defenders, followed by his left wing 3 off the glass with 1:23 left, made it 120-113, and the Pelicans couldn't recover.
"That's him," Porzingis said of Doncic. "He loves those moments. I love those moments. And we're going to try to be dangerous there at the end."
Holiday, however, labored through an uncharacteristically rough shooting night, going just 2 of 11 from the field.
"I feel like we go through this every year, especially with me, but it's just timing — new lineups, new situations, new team," Holiday said. "There's always a positive. Last two games, we were in it at the end, so we'll just go back to the film and see what we can do."
Mavericks: Brunson finished with 14 points and Maxi Kleber grabbed 10 rebounds. ... Dwight Powell, who plays center and forward, sat out his second straight game with a left hamstring strain. ... Coach Rick Carlisle lost a replay challenge of an officials' decision that Wright committed a blocking foul on Hart's fourth-quarter pull-up that cut the Mavs' lead to 103-101. ... Dallas went 14 of 40 from 3-point range but shot 48.4 percent (45 of 93) overall.
Pelicans: Reserve guard Frank Jackson scored 10 points in just 14:47. ... New Orleans finished 15 of 41 from 3-point range, with Ball missing nine of 12 and Hart missing four of five. ... Coach Alvin Gentry rotated 11 players into the game and 10 of them played at least 14 minutes. In New Orleans' opener at Toronto, 12 players got in the game, each playing at least 13 minutes.
New Orleans led by 16 early and double digits for much of the first half.
The Pelicans went up 53-40 on Nickeil Alexander-Walker's 3 in the second quarter, but Dallas outscored New Orleans 32-11 during the final eight minutes of the half, and Porzingis said it started with Dallas' defense.
"I told everybody we're going to step it up. We're going to put it in a different gear defensively," Porzingis said. "We got out there with more energy, with more intensity, more vocal. ... That got us going."
Wright and Doncic each scored eight during that surge, which was ignited by Doncic's step-back 3. Soon after, Porzingis, who had 17 first-half points, added a dunk, a 3 and free throws on successive possessions to make it 55-50.
Tim Hardaway Jr.'s 3 put Dallas ahead 72-64 at halftime.
Top draft pick Zion Williamson, coming off arthroscopic surgery to repair the lateral meniscus in his right knee, was on the court for introductions in street clothes, using a crutch. He is expected to be out six to eight weeks, meaning the Pelicans could be 20-plus games into the season before he plays.
Mavericks: Host Portland on Sunday.
Pelicans: Visit Houston on Saturday.