Starring Without Stars (Pelicans at Mavericks; 01.13.24)

Ross James/ALOST

akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief

DALLAS — After not getting in to town until early this morning, and fresh from a defeat less than 24 hours ago, the New Orleans Pelicans put the players integral to their success over the past month on ice on Saturday — and placed the players they need the most to sustain the good run of form going into the spring into the spotlight.

The Pelicans depth went from role players to the main protagonists in an impressive road victory, as rookie first-round draft pick Jordan Hawkins scored a career-high 34 points as New Orleans defeated the Mavericks 118-108 at American Airlines Center. All five starters scored in double figures for New Orleans, who sat star players Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, and CJ McCollum one night after the Pelicans lost in Denver to the Nuggets last night.

Jonas Valanciunas, one of the two regular starters who remained in the lineup, had 14 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists.

New Orleans is 7-2 in its last nine games and 12-5 since an embarrassing blowout defeat in the In-Season Tournament semifinal game against the Los Angeles Lakers in Las Vegas on December 7. While the Pelicans’ version of the Big 3 have been the driving force in the surge up the standings, New Orleans found strength in numbers for tonight, as well as a promising sign going forward that one of their depth players, Hawkins, might be a key contributor for the rest of the season.

“He was terrific. He was locked in from the very start of the game,” Pelicans head coach Willie Green said about Hawkins. “His game plan discipline was off the charts. His ability to not only hit shots, but to continue to make the right play on both sides of the basketball. He is getting better and better before our eyes, and he is making my job extremely difficult.”

*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Saturday evening’s contest, with photos taken by Dallas-area photographer Ross James. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 24 pictures in total.

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Tags : Dallas MavericksNational Basketball AssociationNew Orleans Pelicans

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