Gutsy games like the one the Dallas Mavericks pieced together Saturday night could serve as a nice picker-upper for a team that’s been down on its luck lately.
Frustrated after consecutive double-digit losses at home earlier in the week, the Mavs bounced back and defeated New Orleans 107-98 before a sellout crowd of 20,454 at American Airlines Center.
Dwight Powell came off the bench to score 15 points and grab 7 rebounds in 26 minutes.
It was the first home win of the season for the Mavs, who squared their overall record at 3-3. New Orleans, meanwhile, dropped to 0-6 and remains the only team in the Western Conference without a victory this season.
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Deron Williams scored 19 points and Dirk Nowitzki added 18. But it was a huge lift off the bench from Dwight Powell that aided the Mavs, who ended this three-game homestand with a 1-2 record.
Powell scored a career-high 15 points by making 7 of 9 shots, and also collected seven rebounds in 26 minutes.
“There’s no big shocks to me,” coach Rick Carlisle said of Powell. “It was getting experience and getting better.
“The thing I’ve got to be careful about is playing him in too long of stretches of minutes, because when guys get real tired they get prone to bad fouls and they get prone to mistakes because they’re tired. But he did a terrific job tonight, and I really like his presence.”
If the Mavs were fatigued, they didn’t show it. Dallas shot 47.6 percent from the field, fought the Pelicans to a 42-42 standstill on the backboards, and dug down deep whenever they needed to in order to hang on for the victory.
After New Orleans closed a 16-point deficit to 100-94 with 2:03 left after a 3-pointer by Eric Gordon, Williams scored six unanswered points to bump the Dallas lead to 106-94 with 24.6 seconds left.
I thought D-Will played great. I thought he had really terrific command of the game.
Coach Rick Carlisle on point guard Deron Williams
Williams’ ability to take over the game in crunch time is precisely what the Mavs expected when they signed him to a two-year, $11 million free-agent contract over the summer. Williams was 6 of 13 form the field and added two assists and a pair of steals to an otherwise solid 30-minute performance.
“I thought D-Will played great,” Carlisle said. “I thought he had really terrific command of the game. “Even in the third quarter he was a real key guy as far as getting the ball in the basket, getting other guys involved — he led our team. It’s pretty clear that his legs are getting under him better, his rhythm is getting better, the outside shots are looking more rhythmic.”
We got a little cold in the second quarter and they got a little hot on us, but we hung in there and kept our nose in it.
After falling behind 48-42 at intermission, the Mavs carried a 72-70 lead into the fourth quarter. Then, fueled by Nowitzki’s hot hand, the Mavs opened the final period on a 25-10 run and bolted to a 96-80 lead with 6:01 remaining in the game.
“We got a little cold in the second quarter and they got a little hot on us, but we hung in there and kept our nose in it,” Carlisle said. “With a team full of new guys we’ve got to be even more mindful of building chemistry.”
Following a one-game experiment Thursday when he played just the second half against Charlotte, small forward Chandler Parsons was back in his normal — for the moment — role of starting and playing only in the first half. Parsons, who is working himself back into game condition after off-season right knee surgery, finished with six points and two rebounds, and was 3 of 6 from the field in 15 minutes.
The Mavs did fulfill their goal of leading (26-21) after the first quarter for the first time at home this season. From there, it was just a matter of sticking together, with Nowitzki giving a lot of praise to Williams.
“He basically missed the entire preseason,” Nowitzki said. “He’s another guy, obviously, that keeps getting better and better for us.
“But you can see what kind of talent he is when he gets in that swing mode, attack mode, post him, pick-and-roll him. He’s got a good 3-pointer when he’s open, so I think there’s a lot of weapons he has in his arsenal.”