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Mavericks look to extend Pelicans’ 9-game losing streak

The New Orleans Pelicans might get tired of playing against elite players on their three-game road trip.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 50 points and 15 rebounds on Sunday as the Pelicans started their journey with a 135-110 loss in Milwaukee. Then Nikola Jokic had 26 points, 18 rebounds and 15 assists to lead the Denver Nuggets to a 122-113 win for New Orleans’ ninth straight loss on Tuesday.

Now the Pelicans will look to slow down Luka Doncic, who scored 53 points in his last game against the Detroit Pistons on Monday, when they visit the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday.

Doncic scored 14 points in the first quarter on January 7 as the Mavericks held a 19-point lead against the Pelicans. Doncic finished the tournament with 34 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists as Dallas won 127-117.

That was New Orleans’ fourth loss in five games, but that stretch is nothing compared to what the team is going through now.

“We have to keep our heads down and keep working,” said Pelicans coach Willie Green. “It’s hard to win in the NBA and we see that. But we’re beginning to reclaim our identities on both ends of the floor. We’re getting there. We just have to keep it up for 48 minutes.”

New Orleans hoped the return of forward Brandon Ingram after 29 games because of a bruised toe would provide a boost. But he hasn’t shot that well 40 percent off the ground in the three games he’s played.

“Brandon is coming off not playing for two months,” Green said. “We expected it to take some time. He works his way through.”

Ingram had 16 points against the Nuggets, making just five of 17 shots but contributing nine assists.

“I like the fact that Brandon, with his ability to see the ground and play open passes, set the table early and the guys put down shots,” Green said.

The Mavericks aren’t struggling as much as the Pelicans, but they’re only 4-8 since the two teams last met.

Dallas finally shook off the lowly Pistons with a 111-105 win on Monday as Doncic had his fourth 50-point game of the season.

He made 17 of 24 field goal attempts, 5 of 11 3-pointers, and 14 of 18 free throws on his return from a game absence due to an ankle injury.

“Of course still not 100 percent,” said Doncic over the ankle. “But it is good.”

Doncic had 45 points in three quarters, but the Mavericks fell behind for much of the game and faced a one-point deficit early in the fourth quarter. Doncic got some help when Spencer Dinwiddie scored 10 points in the first seven minutes of the fourth quarter and Dallas took the lead.

“Sometimes when a star is coming back from an injury, players wait and see if that guy gets going again,” said Mavericks coach Jason Kidd. “Spencer has played at a high level in the last two games. But he let Luka dictate everything (Monday) instead of playing the way he played. Lukas will join the party. He’s too talented not to do The ball will find him .

“We talked at half-time about Spencer being aggressive and pretending Luka wasn’t out there and he ended up doing that.”

– Field level media

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