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Mavericks improve to 7-3

by Tyler Lennon

The Dallas Mavericks hosted the New Orleans Pelicans Monday, looking to pick up their seventh win of the season in just their 10th game. The last time the Mavericks opened their season 7-3 was back in the 2013-14 season when they finished the year with a record of 49-33.

Dallas was going up a Pelicans roster who was less than healthy, missing both Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram. Even then, the Mavericks got off to a bit of a slow start, trailing 27-22 at the end of the first quarter. 

In just his second start back from injury Kristaps Porzingis got off to a strong start for Dallas, scoring six points and grabbing five rebounds in the opening frame. Tim Hardaway Jr., Luka Doncic, Reggie Bullock and Jalen Brunson each scored four points in the first quarter.

The second quarter is when the Mavericks began to pick things up, outscoring New Orleans 29-20 in the quarter, to take a 51-49 lead at the end of the first half. Doncic led the way in the frame, scoring nine points on 3-4 shooting, making his only 3-point attempt in the period. 

Frank Ntilikina also had a strong outing in the frame, scoring seven points on 3-5 shooting. He also had a +/- of 12 in his 7:22 of action. Hardaway Jr. made both of his field goal attempts in the quarter, adding five points as the Mavericks took control of the game.

Looking to avoid a lull in the third quarter, which almost led to a Mavericks loss in their most recent outing against the Boston Celtics, Dallas was able to continue to add to their lead in the period. The scoring was spread out amongst a number of players, as Dorian Finney-Smith, Doncic and Brunson each led with six points the period. 

The final quarter was the highest scoring of the night for Dallas, who outscored New Orleans 30-23 in the frame, cruising to a 108-92 victory. The Mavericks were led by Doncic who had 25 points, five rebounds and five assists. It was his 131st career game with 25+ points, 5+ rebounds and 5+ assists, taking the franchise record, which was previously held by Dirk Nowitzki who had 130 such games.

Hardaway Jr. and Brunson were the next leading scorers, adding 17 points each. Hardaway Jr. had an incredible shooting night, going 6-9 from the field and making four of his five 3-point attempts.

For Brunson it was his fourth consecutive game scoring in double-digits. In that four-game stretch he is averaging 21.5 points per game and is shooting 59.3% in that time.

In his second start back after missing five consecutive games, Porzingis finished with 12 points and eight rebounds in 26 minutes of work. The Mavericks are now 4-1 when the Latvian big man is in the lineup.

Bullock also had 12 points for Dallas, playing 21 minutes off the bench. Bullock made two of his three 3-point attempts and shot 5-7 from the field. The win improves the Mavericks record to 3-1 this year when Bullock scores 10 or more points.

A huge key for Dallas tonight was their bench production. The Mavericks bench outscored the Pelicans bench 42-10, setting a new season-high. Their previous season-high was against Boston Saturday when they outscored the Celtics bench by 18 points.

“I think it’s one of our strengths,” head coach Jason Kidd said about his team’s strong bench play. “We can start a guy that comes off the bench and he can help us win. When you look at Frank Ntilikina and looking at Jalen Brunson and Sterling Brown and those guys that are coming off the bench, they all can provide something different, starting on the defensive end. I really believe our bench is a big part of our success.”

The win improves Dallas to 7-3 on the young season. It’s the first time they’ve opened their season by winning seven of their first 10 games since the 2013-14 season.

Their 7-3 start puts Dallas tied with the Utah Jazz for the second-best record in the Western Conference. The Mavericks hit the road for a pair of games, starting Wednesday against the Chicago Bulls, before traveling to San Antonio to take on the Spurs Friday. Their next home game will be Monday against the Denver Nuggets. That game is set to begin at 7 p.m. and will air on NBA TV.

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