via the Sports Xchange
DALLAS — Harrison Barnes and Wesley Matthews each found the hot hand in the fourth quarter to lead the Mavericks past the New Orleans Pelicans 91-81 Sunday, snapping Dallas’ eight-game losing skid, the longest of the Mark Cuban era.
Matthews and Barnes combined for 23 of the Mavs’ 31 fourth-quarter points to bring Dallas back from a 71-65 deficit midway through the period.
Barnes, who signed a big-money deal with Dallas during the offseason, finished with 23 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter, seven rebounds and four assists. His lone 3-pointer on four attempts with under five minutes to play came on the heels of Matthews burying one of his six to ignite Dallas’ 26-10 finishing push.
Matthews scored 21 points, 12 in the final period, on a night when Dallas played for an 11th time this season without Dirk Nowitzki (Achilles). Matthews was 4 of 4 from the field and 3 of 3 from beyond the arc in the fourth to get the Mavericks (3-13) their first victory since Nov. 8.
“We just have to keep playing hard and playing for each other and playing together on both ends of the court,” Matthews said. “It’s something that we haven’t done this season so far. One thing that I was proud of tonight was that we didn’t hang our heads. We didn’t get down on ourselves.”
After Dallas pulled ahead 78-75 with 4:05 to play, New Orleans managed just six points the rest of the way.
“I would love to talk about how hard everybody played the entire 48 minutes regardless of the situation and regardless of the score,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “At the end, we just kept playing hard and we outlasted them. And it was hard. There are a lot of reasons to drop your head in a game like this — they made runs and we had a few bad turnovers and stuff like that. But, everybody was undeterred and kept hanging in there for each other and it’s good to win a game once in a while.”
The Pelicans (6-12) were led by All-Star forward Anthony Davis, who continued to put up MVP-like numbers with 36 points on 12-of-22 shooting, 13 rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block. But even an MVP needs help, and it simply didn’t come. Guard Jrue Holiday, coming off the bench since his recent return, was the only other New Orleans player to score in double figures, finishing with 17 points in 31 minutes.
It was the Pelicans’ second consecutive loss after stringing together a season-best four-game win streak. Afterward, coach Alvin Gentry was not pleased with his team’s effort.
“They deserved to win the game. That’s the bottom line,” Gentry said. “We can sit here and talk about a hundred different things but they outplayed us and they deserved to win. I don’t know what else needs to be said.”
Both teams had plenty of problems finding the basket for most of the game, and the inability to score kept it close. Dallas’ 10-point winning margin was its largest lead of the game. New Orleans’ biggest lead was six when it opened the fourth quarter on an 8-2 burst for a 68-62 lead.
The teams were tied 20 times and they swapped the lead 18 times.
The strong finish got the Mavs over 40 percent shooting from the field and up to 37 percent from beyond the arc, a mark that was stalled out in the 20-percent range almost all night.
The Pelicans shot 39 percent from the floor and went 5 of 20 from beyond the arc.
Davis’ tip-in at the first-half buzzer gave him 19 points and cut the Dallas lead to 44-42 at halftime. The Pelicans’ other four starters combined for 19 points for the entire game on 8-of-20 shooting.
Dallas got double-digit bench scoring from Justin Anderson, who had 14 points and two 3-pointers on three attempts, plus eight rebounds, and Seth Curry, who finished with 10 points.
Outside of Holiday, the Pelicans’ bench managed just nine points, five from rookie Buddy Hield.
“We weren’t moving the ball like we were the past six games. Everything was stagnant,” Hield said. “We just have to get more stops on the defensive end and rebound more. The past couple of games we did all that. Dallas wanted the game more than us tonight. We just have to make shots and defend.”