The New Orleans Pelicans will go as far as Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins can take them, but Rajon Rondo is capable of pushing the two big men to even greater heights. Rondo will try to follow up a historic performance and lead the Pelicans to a fourth consecutive win when they host the Dallas Mavericks on Friday.
Rondo became the seventh player in NBA history, the first since 1996 and the first in franchise history to hand out 25 assists in a game when he hit that mark in a 128-113 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday. “The number one thing is we got the win,” Rondo told reporters. “And then me personally, I love passing the ball. When everyone touches the ball, it gives you energy and life on defense. That’s what I‘m a big believer in, giving everyone touches and energy on both ends of the floor.” The Mavericks still own the worst record in the Western Conference but just finished holding a pair of high-powered offenses in check in wins over Toronto and Indiana. Wednesday’s 98-94 triumph at the Pacers snapped an eight-game road losing streak for Dallas, which finishes up the three-game trip at Oklahoma City on Sunday.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, FS Southwest (Dallas), FS New Orleans
ABOUT THE MAVERICKS (11-25): Toronto averages 110.6 points but was held to 93 by Dallas on Tuesday before Indiana, which averages 107.5 points, was held under 95 on Wednesday. “We stuck with it,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle told reporters after beating Indiana. “You know, they’re a great offensive team, and they were making shots early in the game. We just felt like if we picked up our intensity a little bit, we could contest a little better and make it tough on them.” Offensively, 39-year-old forward Dirk Nowitzki showed little wear on the back-to-back and scored a combined 33 points on 15-of-23 shooting in the two wins.
ABOUT THE PELICANS (18-16): Jrue Holiday served as the point guard for New Orleans until moving off the ball when Rondo joined the team, and he is thriving in his new role. Holiday scored 23 points on 10-of-17 shooting in Wednesday’s win and is averaging 22.2 points on 52.5 percent shooting in December. “If you see an open lane to cut, he’ll get (the ball) there,” Holiday told the team’s website of Rondo. “I don’t know how he does, but he’ll get it there. When he’s on the court, everybody has this type of energy, where you want to play and get out in the lanes, cut, set flare screens and see everyone succeed, because that’s the type of guy he is. Playing with him has been really fun.”
1. Davis totaled 10 blocked shots in the last two games.
2. Mavericks SG Wesley Matthews is 2-of-16 from 3-point range over the last three games.
3. New Orleans earned a 99-94 win at Dallas on Nov. 3 behind 20 points and 22 rebounds from Cousins.
PREDICTION: Pelicans 113, Mavericks 101