DALLAS — Thanks to a dominating third quarter, the Dallas Mavericks posted a 102-93 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans in a key Western Conference showdown Monday night at American Airlines Center.
The Mavericks (40-22) snapped a two-game skid and remained a half-game behind the Los Angeles Clippers for fifth place in the West.
The Pelicans (32-28) were bidding for their first winning streak of at least six games since the 2010-11 season. A win would have left New Orleans tied with the Oklahoma City Thunder for eighth in the conference.
Neither team was at full strength with multiple starters out due to injuries. The Mavericks were down center Tyson Chandler and forward Chandler Parsons, while New Orleans didn’t have forwards Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson and guard Jrue Holiday.
Dallas relied on a balanced offensive effort, with six players scoring in double figures. Shooting guard Monta Ellis topped all scorers with 20 points. Point guard Rajon Rondo, two games removed from a one-game suspension, added 19 points.
Mavericks small forward Richard Jefferson scored 16, and power forward Dirk Nowitzki had 14 points and eight rebounds. Backup center Amar’e Stoudemire and guard Devin Harris each had 14 points off the bench.
Dallas was in a good rhythm for much of the night and wound up
shooting 48.1 percent.
“When guys play good defense, when guys drive, when guys make the extra pass, those are things in the game of basketball that are really contagious,” Jefferson said. “I think we started off the game the right way with driving and getting to the basket, and the guys off the bench just came in and kept that pace going.”
New Orleans, in a stretch of five games in seven nights, had five players score at least 10 points. Reserve guard Norris Cole had a team-high 19 points. Guards Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans scored 18 and 17, respectively. Center Alexis Ajinca had a strong 13 points and 12 rebounds off the bench, and forward Dante Cunningham scored 12 points.
The Mavericks won the season series with New Orleans 3-1, and they improved to 21-2 at home in the all-time series.
The Pelicans sustained a devastating cold spell to open the second half. After scoring the first basket of the third quarter, New Orleans missed 12 consecutive shots in a drought lasting more than six minutes.
“We just couldn’t score,” Pelicans coach Monty Williams said. “And then they were running the ball down our throat. We had a few missed assignments, but that happens.
“Typically, lately we’ve been scoring the ball, and so that hurt us, and then we just didn’t emotionally get it back after that. I thought we got down a little bit. Maybe we were tired. For whatever reason, we didn’t have the same juice in that third quarter.”
The Mavericks took advantage, scoring 16 straight points to lead 71-60. Dallas held the Pelicans to 13 points in the period and went into the fourth holding an 80-71 advantage. The Mavs were able to keep New Orleans at an arm’s length down the stretch.
“We came out of the locker room with a lot of fire, a lot of attitude and some real disposition,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “The bottom line is we’ve got to play an entire 48 that way.”
The Pelicans scored only 35 points in the second half and made just one 3-pointer.
New Orleans opens up a three-game homestand Wednesday against the Detroit Pistons.
“We are definitely looking forward to going home,” Gordon said. “We are a good home team, and it’s going to be good to play at home for sure.”