Dallas Mavericks

Ferrell sparked a Mavs’ comeback that came up short in 121-118 loss to the Pelicans

NEW ORLEANS – What the Dallas Mavericks got from point guard Yogi Ferrell in the second half of Wednesday’s 121-118 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans is what they would like the rookie free agent to show them for an entire game.

In the second half alone at Smoothie King Center, Ferrell scored all 15 of his points on 5-of-9 shots. He was 4-of-6 from 3-point land in the final half and was the primary reason the Mavs put up a serious threat and came close to pulling out a victory over the Pelicans.

"He was in a great shooting rhythm and was really looking for his shot,’’ said forward Dirk Nowitzki, who scored a team-high 23 points. "He was coming off a down screen and knocking down a big three for us and really kept us in the game there for awhile with his 3-ball.

‘Defensively he was battling, and that’s what you get out of him every night. He was big for us off the bench."

Ferrell attempted just one shot in the first half – and missed it. What infuriated coach Rick Carlisle is that, for some reason, Ferrell didn’t take another shot in the first half.

"One thing I said to Ferrell at halftime is he missed his first shot and then all of a sudden he wasn’t looking at the basket the next time he got the ball,’’ Carlisle said. "I just told him this is a 100-game season with exhibitions, and it’s a process.

"I said ‘Look around, do you see (J. J.) Barea or (Devin) Harris passing up shots when they’re open if they miss their first one?’ He came out in the second half and made (five shots), and that’s the kind of disdain you’ve got to have for missed shots – big deal.’’

Ferrell certainly quickly put Wednesday’s dismal first-half behind him. But he knew he had to if he wanted to remain in the game.

"I’ve been a little too hesitant recently,’’ Ferrell said. "I came in at halftime and (Carlisle) told me to shoot the ball, so I just went out there and did that.

"Every time I put it up I knew it was good."

Of course, Ferrell was featured more against the Pelicans because Devin Harris wasn’t around long. The 13-year veteran guard received two quick technical fouls and an automatic ejection for protesting a call from referee Ben Taylor too vehemently with 9:08 remaining before halftime.

It was the first time in high school, college or the NBA that Harris said he’d been tossed from a game.

"A couple of calls I didn’t agree with,’’ said Harris, who only played six minutes. "I kind of lost my cool out there.

"I keep my temper very managed well, but I just sort of lost it. I got to be better than that, but I don’t like getting elbowed in the face and get called for the foul at the same time.’’

The Mavs could sympathize with Harris.

"He felt like he was getting a tough whistle,’’ Nowitzki said. "He was getting hit on some picks, he took some elbows and he kept getting the fouls, so he snapped -- rightfully so.

"It’s going to cost him a little bit, but he’ll be OK."

Carlisle and assistant coach Melvin Hunt also each received a technical foul during the flair-up by Harris. For his part, Carlisle knew something had to be amiss for Harris to react with so much anger that he had to be restrained by teammates as he tried to get close to Taylor.

"He was upset, and I’ve never seen him that upset,’’ Carlisle said. "But I haven’t seen the replays yet, so I can’t comment on it.

"But Ferrell took up for Devin in the second half. He did what Devin does, he went hard, he defended, he made plays on offense."

A step-back 14-footer by Ferrell gave the Mavs a 100-99 lead with 7:43 remaining in the game. But Jordan Crawford, who averaged 10.2 points in six summer league games for the Mavs in 2015, gave New Orleans a 121-116 lead with 46.2 seconds left.

And after a layup by Seth Curry (18 points) got Dallas within 121-118 of the Pelicans with 39.7 seconds to go, the Mavs put up a defensive front and put themselves in position to send the game into overtime.

But Wesley Matthews missed a 3-pointer just before time expired and the Mavs dropped to 31-43 and five games behind Portland for the final Western Conference playoff spot with only eight games remaining.

"It took us too much to get involved in the game," Matthews said. "But then once we did and settle in (the game) in the second half, the ball started moving more and we started getting good shots and we started getting a little bit more aggressive on the defensive end.

"It’s hard to make up the(33-17 Pelicans) discrepancy in free throws. But they were more aggressive than we were."

The Mavs just want to see the aggression they saw in the second half from Ferrell for a whole game.

"Yogi got hot and made four threes, which was big, and really got us into the game and got us the lead at one point,’’ Carlisle said. "If you’ve done the work, keep stepping into them, and he did in the second half."

Dwain Price: 817-390-7760, @dwainprice