NEW ORLEANS — After surrendering a 17-point lead and falling behind by six due to another weak defensive third quarter, the Dallas Mavericks knew they had to make a final stand against the New Orleans Pelicans.
The veteran club did exactly that Saturday night, holding the Pelicans to 25 percent shooting in a 15-point fourth quarter and outmuscling New Orleans for a 109-104 comeback victory at the Smoothie King Center.
“It was a great game — a fun game to be a part of,” said forward Dirk Nowitzki, who buried a 15-foot jumper over Anthony Davis with 43.9 seconds left for a 109-103 lead, icing the victory for the Mavericks (2-1). “As bad as we were on defense in the third, we were really good in the fourth. To give up 15 points in the fourth quarter and end up stealing a win on the road — that’s great work.”
Nowitzki scored 17 points and was one of six Dallas players in double figures in a balanced offensive attack. Forward Chandler Parsons scored a team-high 20 points, guard Monta Ellis had 17, guard Devin Harris and
forward Brandan Wright had 12 each and center Tyson Chandler added 11.
But it was the Dallas defense that produced the win. After surrendering a 37-20 third quarter to the Pelicans — in which New Orleans guard Tyreke Evans exploded for 16 points on a combination of strong drives to the basket and a pair of uncharacteristic 3-pointers — the Mavs found their 14-point halftime lead transformed into an 89-86 deficit.
“Evans got ridiculously hot,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “He was making outside shots, and we took the hit and we bounced back and we got scores and stops when we needed them.”
The Mavs actually trailed by six before Harris hit a 3-pointer from the left wing just before the end of the third quarter. Then, in the fourth, both Harris and guard Jameer Nelson took charges on back-to-back possessions against guard Eric Gordon and Evans that helped turn the tide.
The Mavericks forced seven New Orleans turnovers in the fourth quarter, and the Pelicans made just 4 of 16 shots from the field. New Orleans missed all five of its 3-point attempts in the final period.
“It’s about getting stops, and we didn’t do that in the third quarter,” Nelson said. “We just had to make the hustle plays and help one another, taking charges and getting loose balls. That’s what we did. It’s not easy, but we have to put forth the effort.”
The Mavericks recorded their eighth consecutive win over the Pelicans (1-1) despite another sterling performance by Davis, who had a game-high 31 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and blocked three shots. Point guard Jrue Holiday also scored 24 for the Pelicans, and Evans added 22.
“We could have had that game,” Davis said. “We have to make sure that we execute and focus, especially when we face a team like Dallas.”
New Orleans coach Monty Williams said the Pelicans allowed the Mavericks to wrest control of the game in the fourth quarter because of sloppy ball-handling.
“They’re not going to beat themselves,” Williams said of the Mavericks. “In the fourth quarter, after we had made some 3s to get back into it, I thought we kind of settled a little bit instead of going to the basket.”
The Pelicans erased a 14-point halftime deficit with a 23-6 run to start the third quarter, with Davis scoring 10 and Holiday adding five, to lead 75-72. The Mavericks went nine consecutive possessions without scoring.
The Mavericks’ pick-and-roll offensive created wide-open looks in the first half, and they took advantage, shooting 55.1 percent from the field (27 of 49) en route to a 66-52 halftime lead.