Mavs use strong second half to pull away from Pelicans
At halftime of their game with the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night at American Airlines Center, the New Orleans Pelicans were in a good spot, leading 58-55.
However, that was about as good as it would get for the visitors. After the Pelicans' Dante Cunningham hit a jumper with 11:40 remaining in the third to give New Orleans a 60-55 lead, the Pelicans wouldn't score again for 6:47, going 0-for-12 from that stretch as Dallas outscored New Orleans 16-0 to pretty much put the game away as the Mavericks prevailed 102-93.
By the time Tyreke Evans scored on a 20-foot pull-up with 4:53 remaining, the Mavericks (40-22) had gone from trailing by five to being ahead by nine at 71-62.
"We just couldn't score," Pelicans head coach Monty Williams said of that disastrous third quarter. "And then they were running the ball down our throat. I thought we got down a little bit. Maybe we were tired. For whatever reason, we didn't have the same juice in that third quarter."
Mavs two guard Monta Ellis led all scorers with 20 points while Norris Cole led the Pelicans with 19 points off the New Orleans bench.
"One big reason we've had success is Monta Ellis. He did it again tonight," Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle said. "He really closed the game down, made plays, made shots on offense.
Ellis was one of six Mavs to finish with 14 points or more, balanced scoring Dallas clearly needed with starters Tyson Chandler and Chandler Parsons both out for Monday's game.
"Six guys with 14 or more, we needed it. We needed it tonight," Carlisle said.
Dallas point guard Rajon Rondo had a strong game for the Mavs as well, finishing with 19 points and five rebounds. Rondo was bolstered by a 13-point first quarter where he started 6-of-9 from the field. He finished the game at 9-for-15, a performance which earned the respect of his counterpart in the visiting locker room.
"When he plays like that-not thinking, just going, he's definitely a factor you have to deal with," Evans said of Rondo. "On the pick-and-roll, he was just in attack mode, taking what the defense was giving him. He had it going tonight."
But Carlisle didn't just heap praise on Ellis. He also singled out big man Bernard James, who started in place of the injured Chandler and finished with no points and six rebounds, one of several contributions from James which Carlisle felt were integral to the victory.
"He was plus-23 and didn't score a point. He's another guy that plays with a lot of energy and does a lot of good things at both ends even if he's not scoring," Carlisle said. "I think it's more than noteworthy. We need guys that can step in like he did tonight in the absence of Tyson and do a lot of little things to help us win. What we did tonight was very important for us."
Monday marked the fourth game for Amare' Stoudemire as a Maverick and the veteran big delivered a solid performance of 14 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals off the bench.
But more than his individual numbers, Stoudemire knew how important it was to help the Mavs, who had lost two straight heading into Monday, right the ship before heading out on a West Coast road trip later this week that will take them to face the Portland Trail Blazers (Thursday), Golden State Warriors (Friday) and the Los Angeles Lakers (Sunday).
"We just had to grind this one out," Stoudemire said. "It was an important win for us. We wanted to come out tonight with some aggressiveness from the start and get this win."
One huge reason why the Mavs prevailed on Monday evening at the AAC was that they outscored the Pelicans 50-24 in the paint.
New Orleans (32-28) was on the second night of a back-to-back after winning at the Pepsi Center against the Denver Nuggets on Sunday night and then traveling to Big D.
"Yeah, that (difference in the paint) was tough to swallow," Williams said. "We just came off the toughest back-to-back in the league. Anytime you go to Denver or leave Denver and have a back-to-back, you're dealing with a lot. I thought we got a bit tired tonight, but the way we competed and fought to the end says a lot about our group."
New Orleans returns home to begin a three-game homestand on Wednesday against the Detroit Pistons.