Pelicans.com postgame: Mavericks 107, Pelicans 90
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
Jrue Holiday is the New Orleans Pelicans’ leader in assists and fourth-leading scorer, but his most valuable basketball skill may be his on-ball defense. Monty Williams calls Holiday “the head of the snake for us” on that end of the floor. Playing without Holiday for the first time in 2013-14 on Friday, the Pelicans turned in one of their poorest defensive efforts of the season. The subpar game on ‘D’ continued a recent trend that coincided with Holiday struggling physically, with what was ultimately diagnosed as a stress fracture in his right shin.
For the third consecutive game, the Pelicans (15-20) allowed their opponent to compile a half of at least 60 points, enabling the Mavericks (21-16) to build a 62-49 edge at intermission. Dallas eventually led by as many as 23 points in the second half, en route to a comfortable victory.
Earlier in the week, Miami registered a 64-point second half vs. New Orleans, followed the next night by Washington tallying 61 on the Pelicans’ home floor by halftime. On Friday, Dallas shot 53 percent from the field overall, as well as 14-for-28 from three-point range. The 14 Mavericks three-pointers were the most by a New Orleans opponent this season. Dirk Nowitzki, Vince Carter and Jose Calderon each drilled at least three treys, combining to go 10-for-17 from beyond the arc.
The Pelicans struggled on the offensive end as well, coughing up a season-high-tying 18 turnovers. In losing for the fourth straight time, New Orleans set an ominous tone by committing 11 of those turnovers in the first half. Dallas took a 62-49 lead into the locker room, partly due to scoring 19 points off those miscues.
“That to me was part of it, but not the (only) reason,” Williams said of losing the first game Holiday has missed all season. “We just had some lackluster plays. (Dallas) hit a number of threes tonight off of our mistakes, (and there were) 50-50 balls we couldn’t come up with. Fourteen threes, that is a lot of threes.”
With both Holiday and Ryan Anderson (herniated disc) out of the lineup, the Pelicans will need teamwide contributions to halt their losing streak, as well as quality performances from Anthony Davis, Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans. Davis (21 points, 13 rebounds, 5 blocks) and Gordon (27 points on just 13 attempts from the floor) delivered big individual games, while Evans was limited to just nine minutes of playing time. After a quiet first half, Evans did not play in the second half, with Williams saying afterward that Evans was hampered by his left ankle injury and unable to return to the game.
Austin Rivers was one bright spot for NOLA off the bench, scoring 12 points and handing out four assists in 25 minutes on the floor.
The Pelicans dropped to five games behind the eighth-place Mavericks in the Western Conference standings, with another head-to-head meeting coming Saturday in Dallas. There is no timetable for the return of either Holiday or Anderson, both of whom supported their teammates Friday from the sideline.
“Obviously we missed Jrue, but you can’t do anything about that,” Williams said. “He is out.”