Jaxson Hayes takes a shot in the paint over Kristaps Porzingis

Behind the Numbers presented by HUB International: Pelicans at Mavericks (12/7/19)

by Jim Eichenhofer

A look at three key numbers related to Saturday’s game at the American Airlines Center between New Orleans and Dallas (1 p.m. Central, Fox Sports New Orleans, ESPN Radio New Orleans 100.3 FM):

58.0, 35.0: New Orleans shooting percentage from the field by frontcourt players vs. Dallas this season, followed by shooting percentage against the Mavericks by backcourt players. Perhaps it’s partly due to Dallas’ defensive emphasis and approach when facing New Orleans, but whatever the reason, the Pelicans’ forwards and centers have been extremely efficient in the two losses against the Mavs, while their guards have struggled mightily. Unfortunately for New Orleans, none of the four following players have appeared in more than one meeting with Dallas, but Derrick Favors is 8/10, Jaxson Hayes is 4/5, Jahlil Okafor is 2/3 and Kenrich Williams is 3/5. In a much higher volume of shots, small forward Brandon Ingram has also been efficient, shooting 18/36. In the backcourt, four Pelicans have taken at least 18 shots from the floor while connecting on less than 35 percent of their attempts. Josh Hart is the rare New Orleans perimeter player who’s done well shooting-wise vs. Dallas, going 9/17, including 5/6 on two-pointers. Overall, NOLA is 26/82 from three-point range in the two losses, a below average 31.7 percent rate.

1, 28: Dallas ranking in offensive efficiency and New Orleans ranking in defensive efficiency, respectively. It’s been widely reported that the Pelicans have faced a very difficult early-season slate through 22 games; the schedulemaker did their defense no favors by already drawing up three meetings with the league’s No. 1 offense. Saturday will be the 12th matchup of 2019-20 for New Orleans against one of the NBA’s top-10 offensive attacks, with the Pelicans having also already played No. 3 Houston (twice), No. 5 Phoenix (twice), the No. 6 Clippers (twice), the No. 7 Lakers (once) and No. 8 Toronto (twice). That hasn’t helped in New Orleans’ attempt to move up the defensive rankings, where it is currently ahead of only Atlanta and Washington. By comparison, New Orleans has only had four games against teams in the bottom 10 of offensive efficiency, playing No. 22 Charlotte once, No. 23 Utah once and No. 28 Golden State twice.

8.4: Negative differential in free throw attempts per road game for New Orleans this season, compared to just minus 1.2 at home. The disparity at the charity stripe has been an issue for the Pelicans for most of the campaign, but it’s much more of a problem in away games, where opponents are also making a corresponding 8.7 more foul shots per game. There are several other areas where New Orleans is producing better statistical outcomes at home than on the road, but perhaps none is more glaring than at the foul line. Despite a 4-8 record in the Smoothie King Center, New Orleans is still averaging more assists per game than its guests (25.5 to 24.5), but that ratio flips to minus 2.3 on the road. The Pelicans are averaging roughly the same amount of home/road points scored (114.9 and 114.0), but are giving up 3.6 more on the road (118.1 and 121.7).

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