Up-and-down Pelicans soar over Mavs, 132-106

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NEW ORLEANS – The New Orleans Pelicans returned to the .500 mark once again after routing the Dallas Mavericks 132-106 at the Smoothie King Center Wednesday night.

Two nights after failing to close out the Los Angeles Clippers, the Pelicans made some personnel changes, both to the roster and the starting five, and dominated a winning team at home.

It was the Pelicans’ largest margin of victory in the history of their series against the Mavs. New Orleans also set season highs for made three-pointers (17) and assists (36).

For one night, the Pels competed on the defensive end of the floor. Dallas shot 42.9 percent against a New Orleans team allowing opponents to make nearly 47 percent this season. The Mavericks misfired on 32 of their 46 three point attempts.

Five players scored in double figures, and four players had at least six assists.

Even the bench play was superlative. The second unit combined for 50 points, 17 rebounds, and nine assists.

It was a big win for a team in desperate need for a win of any type.

It was a win that, from the outset, featured the level of effort and activity required for consistent success.

“I thought we started the game with a lot of energy,” said Alvin Gentry. “We moved the basketball, we got out and ran. We did everything that we had to, to try to replicate what we did earlier in the season.”

Julius Randle, starting his second straight game for an injured Niko Mirotic, followed up his career- high 37 points on Monday with 27 points and 18 rebounds.

He was a destroyer of worlds in the low post, and deadly accurate from distance. Just as important, maybe more so, Randle stayed out of foul trouble and limited his turnovers to one.

“It doesn’t surprise me at all,” Gentry said of the big man’s recent play. “He has that rare ability to be a physical player, but he can handle the basketball and be a facilitator too. He’s been great on the boards for us also.”

Gentry is considering a more permanent place for his power forward in the starting lineup.

“I think that’s something that’s got to be discussed for sure,” he said. “If you go back and look at his numbers as a starter and what he’s done…then yes, it’s something that we have to sit down and talk about.”

“My mindset doesn’t really change, whether I start or if I come off the bench,” said Randle. “I just try to focus on what I can control, and that’s my energy and my effort. When I do that, everything else just falls into place.”

Either way, fans can expect to see plenty of Randle alongside Anthony Davis.

Davis posted 27 as well, while adding five blocked shots and dishing out a career-high nine assists. For AD, it was his 10th game of the season with at least six assists. Prior to this season, he had only three such games.

Jrue Holiday was once again the best perimeter player on the court. On the offensive end he scored 17 points on only 11 shot attempts. Holiday also handed out eight dimes while committing just one turnover.

Defensively, he collected four steals and simply eliminated heralded rookie Luka Doncic as a threat.

Doncic was hounded into a woeful 2-8 shooting performance. His eight points represented the second lowest output of the season for a player averaging 18.3 points per game and already nearing cult status in Dallas.

No negatives from the rest of the supporting cast but plenty of positives. How rare that has been this season.

The Pelicans got another infusion of energy from Cheick Diallo. Diallo notched a double-double (10 points, 10 rebounds) and grabbed three steals.

Darius Miller is in the middle of his best stretch of the season. After scoring 12 on Wednesday, Miller is averaging 13.3 points over his last three games on 57 percent shooting.

Ever the pro, E’Twaun Moore didn’t miss a beat as a reserve. He added 17 points in only 26 minutes, going 3-for-4 from long range.

When things have gone wrong this season, Alvin Gentry has talked about a “perfect storm” of mistakes that make it nearly impossible for the Pels to win. Against Dallas, New Orleans had everything go right.

Now the Pelicans have to prove that they can ride this wave for more than one game. New Orleans hasn’t won back to back games since taking three in a row from Nov. 16-19.

It won’t be easy with the Memphis Grizzlies coming to visit on Friday. As good as the Pels are at scoring, Memphis is just as good at stopping teams from scoring.

They say that styles make fights, so at the very least it should be entertaining to watch. But, for the Pelicans it has to be more than that.

It has to be a chance to show not just what they are capable of, but what they are committed to.

The fact of the matter is that we know the answer to the former, but the jury is still out on the latter.

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David Grubb

Sports 1280am host/CCS reporter

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David Grubb has more than a decade of experience in the sports industry. He began his career with KLAX-TV in Alexandria, La. and followed that up with a stint as an reporter and anchor with WGGB-TV in Springfield, Mass. After spending a few years away from the industry, David worked as sports information director for Southern University at New Orleans…

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