Mavericks use long ball to down Pelicans
NEW ORLEANS — Dennis Smith Jr. has the quickness, shooting range and street toughness to be a future NBA star, and on Friday night he gave a glimpse of what the Dallas Mavericks’ future may look like.
The first-round draft pick out of North Carolina State posted his first career triple-double — a team-high 21 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds — to power the suddenly offensive-minded Mavericks to a 128-120 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans.
“He handled things well,” said Dallas coach Rick Carlisle, who handed Smith a game ball — “the first of many” — for his all-around effort in leading the Mavericks to their third straight win and their highest point total of the season. You get a triple-double in an NBA game, that’s a big deal.
“There were some ups and downs, but, you know what, throughout the game he kept attacking, he kept his dander up competitively, and then that full-court layup (with 72 seconds left) closed the game out.”
Smith deflected some of the praise for his play by pointing to his seven turnovers.
“I had seven — that’s almost a quadruple-double,” Smith said. “I had too many turnovers, and that kind of got us stagnant for a little moment, but my teammates picked me up and we were able to pull out a victory.”
The Mavericks (12-25) placed six other players in double figures, and one of the biggest contributors was guard J.J. Barea, who made two 3-pointers in a 35-second span of the final 2:32 to break open a tight game.
The Mavericks nailed a franchise-record 22 3-pointers, making 22 of 39 from long range to shatter their club record of 19.
“We were due for games like this, and hopefully we get some more,” Barea said. “I knew we needed a few more buckets to win the game. I went left, I got some space, I knocked that (first) one down. Then after I knocked one down I wanted to get one more and Dirk (Nowitzki) did a great job of finding me in the corner and I was able to knock that second one down, and that was the game.”
The Pelicans (18-17) got 33 points from Anthony Davis and 32 points and 20 rebounds from DeMarcus Cousins, but the Dallas bench outscored the Pelicans’ reserves 60-10.
“We are the epitome of a team that needs each other,” Carlisle said.
The Mavericks led by as many as 26 points in the first half, but the Pelicans whittled that down to 17 at halftime and to eight at the end of the third quarter.
Dallas led 118-107 with seven minutes remaining, but the Pelicans scored eight straight to move within 118-115 with 3:39 left. It was 120-117 when Barea hit the first of his 3-pointers with 2:32 left. After Cousins missed in the lane, Barea iced the victory with his jumper from the left corner off the feed from Nowitzki.
Davis and Cousins combined to go 23 of 47 from the field and 15 of 16 from the foul line, but the Pelicans’ normally reliable long-range shooting evaporated. New Orleans made just 8 of 31 3-pointers after making at least 10 in 14 of their previous 15 games.
The Mavericks shot 55.4 percent from the field and 56.4 percent from long range, and they outrebounded New Orleans 43-31.
“We didnt start with the same energy we normally start with,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. “We weren’t as connected defensively as I thought we should have been, and so obviously, they got off to a great start shooting the basketball. That’s just way too many obstacles to overcome.”
“We didn’t have any energy, we let them get comfortable,” Davis added. “They didn’t feel the defense. We didn’t play with any physicality.”
NOTES: The Pelicans entered the game with the NBA’s best 3-point shooting percentage (.388). “I think we’ve taken a lot of really good, open 3s, so it doesn’t surprise me a lot,” said coach Alvin Gentry, “but obviously when you’ve got Houston and Golden State ... and they say you’re the No. 1 shooting team in the league, it’s a bit of a surprise because of the history of those teams and the guys they’re running out there.” ... Gentry said PG Rajon Rondo has such knowledge of the game he is willing to give him a lot of leeway. “We let him ‘Omaha,’” Gentry said, referring to QB Peyton Manning’s famous audible call. “I always tell the guys that if I call one (play) and he’s got one called that we’ll go with his.” ... Dallas coach Rick Carlisle says the Pelicans’ offense is hard to stop. “It’s almost impossible to guard (Anthony) Davis or (DeMarcus) Cousins straight up, and then if you double-team them, they’ve got snipers out there,” Carlisle said.