NEW ORLEANS — Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry says DeMarcus Cousins is back in the lineup for Wednesday night’s matchup against Dallas after missing New Orleans’ previous two games with a right ankle sprain.
Gentry says Cousins is not under any minute restrictions. The Western Conference All-Star has averaged 22.5 points and 11.5 rebounds in 13 games since being traded to New Orleans.
The Mavericks, meanwhile, are without one of their front-court reserves. Dallas coach Rick Carlisle says 7-foot-2 center Salah Mejri is being held out against New Orleans because of right knee soreness that has lingered since a collision during the Mavs’ loss to Oklahoma City on Monday night.
Mejri is averaging 2.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and nearly a block per game this season.
NEW ORLEANS — Dallas Mavericks guard Devin Harris was ejected from Wednesday night’s 121-118 loss to the Pelicans after angrily protesting calls made by official Ben Taylor.
Harris was assessed two quick technical fouls by Taylor, the first after Harris protested Taylor’s decision to whistle him for a personal foul when he collided with Pelicans’ guard Jordan Crawford.
The impact with Crawford sent Harris crashing to the court, marking the second time in the period that Harris had gone down hard. The first time, no foul was called when a collision with Pelicans’ guard E’Twaun Moore left Harris flat on his back.
When Harris was assessed the first technical, he went into a tirade and had to be restrained by teammates as he advanced toward Taylor. That triggered his ejection.
DALLAS — You might want to get used to Seth Curry starting at point guard for the Dallas Mavericks. He certainly aced the first night of his audition.
Mavs coach Rick Carlisle opted to insert center Nerlens Noel in the starting lineup Thursday night, bumping rookie point guard Yogi Ferrell to the bench and sliding the rest of the starters down a position. Curry responded to his new role by more than holding his own against perennial All-Star Chris Paul to play a key role in the Mavs’ 97-95 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.
This wasn’t a case of going big to match up against the Clippers. It’s a matter of figuring out whether this is the starting five of the immediate future for the Mavs.
“We’ve got to look at Curry at point with a really conventional team out there,” Carlisle said after Curry scored a game-high 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting and dished out four assists. “We’re going to give this a look. I don’t know how many games it’s going to be. It may be the rest of the year, it may not.”
If Curry has his way, this experiment will extend into next season. He’s proud of his ability to play both backcourt positions — and has played well as Dallas’ starting shooting guard the past couple of months — but Curry embraces the opportunity to have the ball in his hands every play.
“I like being involved in plays,” said Curry, who had cooled off recently after a sizzling scoring stretch coming out of the All-Star break. “At certain times when you play the 2, you can not touch the ball for four or five possessions. That’s not getting me going energy-wise. I like bringing the ball up the court, feeling like I’m involved, then getting off the ball some, too.”
To be clear, the Mavs aren’t asking Curry to morph into a pass-first point guard like Jason Kidd.
“Our system is meant for the 1 to be really aggressive,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “That’s when Yogi was great, when he came off making all those shots when we got him. The 1 has the ball in his hands a lot. Obviously we run some plays, but some of those plays only work if the 1 comes off and looks to score and sucks the big up and makes plays for themselves or others. We always want the [point guards] to be aggressive and score, and [Curry] was fantastic for us tonight.”
Can Curry be consistently good enough for the Mavs to be comfortable going into next season as their starting point guard? They plan to find out.
DALLAS — The Dallas Mavericks were dumbfounded by guard J.J. Barea being called for a flagrant foul 2 and ejected after pushing Blake Griffin during Thursday’s 97-95 win over the LA Clippers.
Dallas coach Rick Carlisle implied that Griffin, a 6-foot-10, 251-pound power forward, flopped after exchanging shoves with the diminutive Barea, who was trying to fight through a Griffin screen with 5:29 remaining in the third quarter.
Mavericks give Seth Curry an opportunity to get the point
After Rick Carlisle decided to give him the start at point guard, Seth Curry responded with a 23-point, four-assist effort in a win over the Clippers.
“Watching Griffin’s cat-ate-the-canary smile tells you the story of that play,” Carlisle said. “That’s all you have to look at.”
Mavs star Dirk Nowitzki called Barea’s ejection “just weak” and complained about the confusion regarding what constitutes a flagrant foul.
“It’s tough to tell these days in this league what’s a flagrant 1, what’s a tech,” Nowitzki said. “I’m lost, and I think so are the refs.”
After a lengthy review, the referees ruled that Barea’s shove with his right forearm was excessive and unnecessary, prompting an ejection that left the Mavs’ reserve point guard laughing as he exited the court.
“The contact was to the shoulders and above the throat,” crew chief Bill Spooner said to a pool reporter. “That is deemed as a flagrant penalty 2.”
Spooner declined to say whether he believed Griffin flopped on the play.
“That is not really relevant to our judgment of the play,” Spooner said. “It has nothing to do with the merits of the play.”
Griffin was not asked about the play after the loss, which caused the Clippers to fall 1.5 games behind the Utah Jazz in the fight for the fourth seed in the Western Conference.
Barea, who had a heated exchange with Griffin immediately after the shove but made peace with him during the review, shrugged off the call.
“I just gave him a little push and he landed way far over there,” Barea said. “That’s what happens. No big deal.”