Jalen Brunson and Luka Doncic left nothing to chance Monday night against the desperate New Orleans Pelicans.
Behind Dallas’ two leading scorers, the Mavericks (7-3) beat the Pelicans (1-10) 108-92 in a game that was as forgettable as possible for an NBA regular-season matchup.
— Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) November 9, 2021
“It’s hard to beat NBA teams,” head coach Jason Kidd said. “We held a team to under 100 points. That is not easy to do. We are just finding ways to win.”
New Orleans’ lead ballooned to double-digits early in the first quarter. But the game never felt in doubt. Dallas held the Pelicans scoreless on 14 of 15 shots for a stretch during the second quarter. And from that point, the rest of the game felt like a mere formality.
Doncic scored 25 points on 21 shots. He hit on 10 of them. He also iced the game in the fourth quarter amidst an offensive run from New Orleans. With momentum swinging in the Pelicans’ favor, it was Doncic’s step-back 3-pointer that put the game out of reach with one minute left to play.
To aid Doncic was Brunson, who scored 17 points on 12 shots. He didn’t hit a 3-pointer in Monday’s contest, but he got downhill and put pressure on New Orleans’ defense all night long.
“My confidence is always growing,” Brunson said. “Playing with the teammates I have. And the staff I work with every day, they continue to give me confidence every single day. Apart from that, it just comes from my work ethic. I know that if I am always in the gym doing what I have to do to prepare myself, that’s where my confidence starts.”
A mark of Brunson’s confidence came when the Pelicans cut the lead two eight in the fourth quarter, and he flung a behind-the-back pass to Porzingis for a catch and shoot 3-pointer.
Destaques da partida de hoje:
Luka Doncic- 25p/5a/5r/1stl/1blk
Tim Hardaway Jr- 17p/6r/4a
Jalen Brunson- 17p/6a/4r/1stl
Reggie Bullock- 12p/4r/1a/1blk
Frank Nkilitina- 9p/3r/2a/2stlpic.twitter.com/jCqqu7YI9N
— Dallas da tristeza (7-3) (@mavsdatristeza) November 9, 2021
“When KP is in the game and we are in the pick-and-roll, I know he’s always a threat,” Brunson said. “I knew he was back there somewhere, so I threw it, and he was able to knock down a big shot.”
A numbers game:
1.) Doncic has 131 games with 20-plus points, 5-plus rebounds and 5-plus assists. It’s the most in Dallas Mavericks’ history. Dirk Nowitzki had 130.
2.) Frank Ntilikina scored nine points in 17 minutes, and he had the second-highest plus-minus on the night at plus-24. His play as a defender and now floor spacer has helped him carve out a niche role in Dallas, one that apparently wasn’t available in New York.
“Frank is a hard-working player,” Reggie Bullock said. “He never really got his opportunity in New York. To be able to see him out on the floor and actually playing is great. He worked hard for this moment.”
3.) At 7-3, Dallas is enjoying its best 10-game start since the 2014-15 season. It may not be much, but it is something.
“We are a work in progress,” Brunson said. “We got a lot of work to do, but we are on the right path — we are just a work in progress.”
Dallas heads to Chicago to play the Bulls on Wednesday, a team that is enjoying its best start in several seasons. Though the Mavericks are 10 games into an 82-game season, there is still so much not known about this team. The offense isn’t great. The defense is good – at best. However, they just keep winning. Until the Mavericks prove otherwise, they are a formidable NBA team, that on the right, can get hot in a hurry.
Related Dallas Mavericks reading:
Feature image via Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports.