DALLAS (AP) — DeMarcus Cousins had his second 20-20 game in barely a week. His coach noticed the smaller number from his burly center — assists.
Cousins had 20 points, 22 rebounds and seven assists, Anthony Davis led New Orleans with 30 points and had 13 boards and the Pelicans opened a four-game trip with a 99-94 victory over the last-place Dallas Mavericks on Friday night.
The 6-foot-11 Cousins was eight days removed from season highs of 41 points and 23 rebounds in a win over Sacramento, his former team. The game after that, he had his seventh career triple-double in a blowout victory at home over LeBron James and Cleveland.
“They are pretty good in the post and pretty good outside,” coach Alvin Gentry said about Cousins and the 6-10 Davis. “The thing that I love is that they are also unselfish players. You look at DeMarcus and most nights he has seven assists, eight assists, nine assists.
“AD is in the post and finding the right people, and scoring pretty much at will.”
Harrison Barnes scored a season-high 26 points for the Mavericks, who are 1-9 for the first time since 1993-94. That was the second straight 1-9 start for teams that lost an average of 70 games over two seasons.
“I thought there were a couple of times tonight we passed up some shots we had,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “The last three games we’ve had some pretty big skyscrapers in there.”
Jrue Holliday added eight assists and a season-high eight rebounds for the Pelicans, who were coming off two straight home losses.
Davis was 10 of 19 from the field and Cousins 8 of 16 to offset an otherwise cold night for the Pelicans. They shot 40 percent and were 7 of 29 from 3-point range. Cousins had four of the long-range misses without making one.
“We are just trying to dominate in the paint,” said Davis, who matched his season high with three blocks. “Knowing that they don’t have a lot of rim protection, we did a great job of finding each other.”
The starting Dallas backcourt of Dennis Smith Jr. and Wesley Matthews went a combined 10 of 32 as the Mavericks shot 39 percent. Smith scored 11 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter after a high-flying dunk in the first half.
“We were taking too long to make our decisions whether we are going to attack, pass or shoot,” Smith said. “We just have to get used to switching.”
Pelicans: Cousins tied his career high with 20 defensive rebounds. … Davis and Cousins were a combined 9 of 10 in the first quarter, with Davis scoring 13 and Cousins 10. … E’Twaun Moore scored 11 points, and Tony Allen added 10. Darius Miller was 3 of 5 from long range for nine points.
Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki, the 39-year-old in his 20th season, scored seven points on 2-of-9 shooting and is at 39 percent for the season. … Matthews, who had seven points on 3-of-12 shooting, got a technical foul in the second quarter for complaining about a foul.
BACK AND FORTH
The Pelicans led by 14 in the first quarter before Barnes scored 13 second-quarter points to help the Mavericks take their only lead at 31-30. New Orleans pushed the margin back to 17 in the third and fourth quarter — and let the lead dwindle to six in both quarters as well. “Man, we are not worried about that,” Davis said. “We don’t care about putting away or not. We just want to win.”
Backup Dallas center Salah Mejri had 13 rebounds and five blocks while starter Nerlens Noel went scoreless with seven rebounds while playing just 13 minutes. Mejri scored seven points. “Salah always battles Cousins well,” Carlisle said. “He’s willing to give his body and take charges.”
Pelicans: Saturday night at Chicago in first back-to-back of season. Bulls have won six straight in series.
Mavericks: Saturday night at Minnesota in third back-to-back of season.