Pelicans play complete game to snap losing streak with win over Mavs
What a difference two nights make!
It was no contest on Sunday as the Dallas Mavericks easily handled the Pelicans in New Orleans.
Tuesday night, it was the Pelicans easily handling the Mavericks, 131-110.
Willie Green missed the game due to an illness and James Borrego stepped into the void and the team responded.
Borrego is experienced, prepared to handle the task, having served as head coach of the Charlotte Hornets from 2018-2022.
Perhaps the purple and green court and the special black and green uniforms changed not just the appearance but the attitude of the home team.
Maybe the “in season tournament” stuff factored in. Do not ask me to explain it.
Then again, maybe it was just a team with potential playing to that potential and displaying what it can be, despite still missing several key pieces.
From the start, the energy level of the Pelicans was noticeably different, at a much higher level than what we saw on Sunday.
From the start, the Pelicans looked good in every phase, defending in aggressive, helpful fashion, with teammates helping each other.
It was interesting, coming on the heels of Zion Williamson’s “taking a back seat” comment, hinting at problems beneath the surface.
Problems surface when you are losing and the Pelicans had lost five in a row.
That streak is over and for now, the problems, whatever they might be, disappeared, at least for one night.
The return of Herb Jones certainly helped.
Jones is the best defender on the team and his all-out effort clearly rubs off on teammates.
Having Naji Marshall back is a real plus. He is a glue guy, like Jones, and a high energy player, like Jones.
The Pelicans were brilliant in the first half, shooting 52 percent from the field, defending well and running the Mavericks into submission, dominating in fast break points.
Rookie Jordan Hawkins was terrific, scoring 18 points, while Jones had 13 points as New Orleans took at 70-54 lead at the half.
The concern was the third quarter blues, the inevitable collapse coming out of the locker room that we have seen much of the young season.
That was most certainly not the case this time.
The Pelicans backed up their superb first half with perhaps their best offensive quarter of the season, scoring 44 points in the third quarter to put the game away early at 114-85. The 44 points tied for the highest scoring quarter for the Pelicans this season.
Zion inspired his team with a pair of thunderous dunks midway through the third quarter and he was smiling quite a bit, a positive sign after what some perceived as negative comments.
New Orleans built a 33-point lead and coasted home to an easy win.
The bench scored a season-high 52 points, led by Hawkins, who finished with 25 points, including 5-of-12 from 3-point range. Marshall had 16 points in 21 minutes in reserve. Hawkins has 27 three-pointers in the first 10 games of his career.
The Pelicans did everything well, shooting 52 percent, including 37 percent from 3-point range.
Brandon Ingram tied Hawkins for team honors with 25 points, adding nine rebounds and seven assists. Jones finished with 19 points and had five steals and Williamson was an efficient, scoring 19 points with seven rebounds and five assists in just 27 minutes.
New Orleans ripped Dallas with 46 fast breaks to just 12 for the Mavericks and the Pelicans dominated in the paint, outscoring Dallas 60-40.
What was fun to watch was the ball movement, a stellar display of unselfish play.
New Orleans is still without C.J. McCollum, Trey Murphy III, Jose Alvarado and Larry Nance Jr. Alvarado should be back soon, McCollum is progressing from his collapsed lung and Murphy could be back before the end of the month.
Help is on the way.
The Pelicans did not need any help tonight.
The Pelicans (5-6) continue the homestand, hosting the defending NBA champion Denver Nuggets Friday night. The Nuggets whipped the Pelicans 134-116 on Nov. 6.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…