Tuesday night was as bad as it could get for the Dallas Mavericks.
Facing a New Orleans Pelicans team down on its luck after not winning a game all season, the Mavs thought this would be an ideal time to pad their own won-lost record. But the Pelicans had other ideas and torched the Mavs 120-105 before a sellout crowd of 17,128 at the Smoothie King Center.
The glum looks on the faces of the Mavs in the locker room afterward told the whole story of a team that wasn’t prepared to deal with the energy the Pelicans brought to the table.
“The bottom line is we got outfought by a desperate team and we didn’t have much traction all night long, which is disappointing,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “We’ve got to do a hell of a lot better — we just do.
“They’re a quality team that’s been getting sand kicked in their face, and tonight they did it to us.”
It shouldn’t take a winless team for us to play hard or lay an egg like we did tonight. There’s no excuse or a reason to ever have a bad start like that. These guys were hungry for a win, and when you’re on a losing streak like that you play desperate and you’re miserable. They played well and we clearly didn’t come ready to play.
Mavericks forward Chandler Parsons
That sand must have blinded the Mavs, who turned the ball over on their first three possessions and were down 12-0 with the game less than three minutes old. From there, it was an uphill battle the Mavs lost while falling to 3-4.
“We knew they were a hungry team coming in,” said point guard Deron Williams, who had eight points and three assists. “They were the aggressors, they hit first and we didn’t hit back.
“I thought we let our offense — the lack thereof, the lack of making shots — dictate kind of what happened on the other end of the floor. And before you knew it was out of hand, and that was pretty much the story all night.”
The Mavs were behind 19-6 midway through the first quarter but pulled within 37-36 with 7:37 remaining in the second period. However, the Pelicans went on an 18-0 run that staggered the Mavs and put Dallas in a 55-36 hole with 2:20 left before halftime.
Six Pelicans scored in double figures Tuesday night, led by forward/center Ryan Anderson, who had 25 points and 11 rebounds off the bench.
“I believe what happened is we took Dirk [Nowitzki] out because we’re always looking at his minutes, and they went on another run,” Carlisle said. “It was some back and forth.
“We missed some open shots, but by and large they outfought us for the win. So, I give them the credit, and we’re going to have to do a lot better.”
Nowitzki finished with a team-high 18 points and converted 7-of-13 shots but only played 20 minutes. However, with the Mavs hosting the Los Angeles Clippers at 7 p.m. Wednesday in a nationally televised game, they weren’t about to run up Nowitzki’s minutes in a game that was basically over at halftime.
“Like I said, we fought back there in the second quarter,” Nowitzki said “We were right where we needed to be — down a couple of points.
“And then we just finished the half brutal, down 18.”
It got so bad for the Mavs that the Pelicans didn’t even miss All-Star forward Anthony Davis, who sat out the entire second half with a right hip contusion. With the Pelicans ahead 58-40 at halftime, Davis finished with 17 points and seven rebounds.
We missed some open shots, but by and large they outfought us for the win. So, I give them the credit, and we’re going to have to do a lot better.
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle
In the meantime, Chandler Parsons played a season-high 17 minutes but only scored three points to go with six rebounds on 1-of-5 shooting. Parsons, who is trying to get in game condition following off-season surgery on his right knee, only played the first half Tuesday.
“I guess these are the steps I’ve got to take to get back 100 percent to play how I’m capable of playing,” he said. “It’s frustrating, especially when we lose like this.”
The Mavs never got closer than 14 points in the second half. Meanwhile, the Pelicans (1-6) shot 50 percent from the field and led by as many as 28 points (112-84) early in the fourth quarter.
“It shouldn’t take a winless team for us to play hard or lay an egg like we did tonight,” Parsons said. “There’s no excuse or a reason to ever have a bad start like that.
“These guys were hungry for a win, and when you’re on a losing streak like that you play desperate and you’re miserable. They played well and we clearly didn’t come ready to play.”
Clippers at Mavericks
7 Wednesday, FSSW, ESPN