New Orleans Pelicans: Grades for blowout loss vs. Mavericks

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /
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New Orleans Pelicans, Naji Marshall
(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

The New Orleans Pelicans are officially eliminated from playoff contention after a blowout 107-125 loss to the Dallas Mavericks.

This result was no surprise. Technically, the Pelicans entered the game with a diminutive chance to make the play-in tournament, but for all intents and purposes, there was never anything to truly play for at the American Airlines Center.

New Orleans was without 80 percent of their regular starting lineup. Lonzo Ball joined Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, and Steven Adams on the sidelines, while Josh Hart remains out of action with a thumb injury. This left the ragtag group of Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Eric Bledsoe, Naji Marshall, James Johnson, and Willy Hernangómez to make the most of their opportunities against the Mavs.

Related Story. Grades for loss vs. Grizzlies. light

The game was a no contest from the second quarter onward. The Mavs led by 19 at the halftime break and the Pelicans never got back into the game. It was a drowsy performance, but that can almost be excused given the long road trip New Orleans is currently on and the lack of stakes on the line.

Luka Doncic led Wednesday night’s annihilation of the Pelicans. The Slovenian playmaker was unstoppable, with New Orleans unable to cover him in pick-and-rolls, on drives, and from beyond the three-point line. Doncic finished the night with 33 points, eight assists, and eight rebounds while not breaking a sweat.

On the Pelicans side, Didi Louzada made his much-anticipated debut after being brought over from the Australian league. The Brazilian wing was drafted by New Orleans in the 2019 draft but spent the past two seasons playing for the Sydney Kings.

Here are the player grades for the Pels’ loss against the Mavericks, starting with my personal MVP:

New Orleans Pelicans vs. Dallas Mavericks: Grading the best player

NAJI MARSHALL. C. . Wing. New Orleans Pelicans

You know it was a rough night when the “best” player gets a C.

I thought Naji Marshall was the pick of the bunch against the Mavs, but that’s not really saying much. Really, there were a few similar performances to the former Xavier standout, but I just thought Marshall looked like the biggest offensive threat for most of the night.

Marshall got some joy getting downhill and being aggressive at the basket, as he has done since cracking Stan Van Gundy’s rotation. He had a few nice drives, particularly early in the game, and made a couple of short jumpers.

However, Marshall missed all three of his attempted three-pointers. He’s done really well to convert himself into a regular rotation player for the Pels who can intermittently start if called upon, but I hope to see improvement from the perimeter next season.

On defense, Marshall struggled, but so did all of his teammates. He was on Luka Doncic most of the game and got absolutely shredded. Marshall competed, but he was no match for Doncic’s change of speed, knack for getting in the paint, ability to make tough pull-ups, and overall nous.