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DALLAS (AP) – Richard Jefferson has made the most of his rare opportunities to start this season for the Dallas Mavericks.
Jefferson tied his season high with 16 points, seven during a 16-0 Dallas run early in the third quarter, and the Mavericks raced past the New Orleans Pelicans 102-93 on Monday night.
The 34-year-old Jefferson made his fifth consecutive start in place of small forward Chandler Parsons, sidelined with a sprained left ankle, and hit five of six field goal attempts. Jefferson has started nine games this season and scored in double figures seven times.
“I just tried to focus on driving the ball a lot more and letting that open up some shots for me,” said Jefferson, who signed a one-year contract as a free agent last summer.
Monta Ellis scored 20 for the Mavericks, who broke a two-game skid. Rajon Rondo had 19 points, 15 in the first half.
The Pelicans, who entered on a five-game winning streak that equaled their longest in the last four years, were paced by Norris Cole with 19 points off the bench. Eric Gordon added 18 and Tyreke Evans 17.
The Pelicans played without center Anthony Davis (shoulder), point guard Jrue Holiday (stress reaction lower right leg) and reserve forward Ryan Anderson (sprained right MCL).
After Dante Cunningham’s jumper 20 seconds into the third quarter increased the Pelicans’ lead to 60-55, New Orleans missed its next 12 shots as the Mavericks roared to a 71-60 lead.
Dallas outscored New Orleans 25-13 in the third period, limiting the Pelicans to 26.3 percent shooting from the floor.
“We just couldn’t score, and they were running the ball down our throat,” New Orleans coach Monty Williams said. “We just emotionally didn’t get it back after that. For whatever reason, we didn’t have the same juice in that third quarter.”
The Pelicans played their fifth game in eight days, including Sunday night in Denver. Williams said starting a back-to-back in the high altitude of Colorado makes it the toughest challenge in the league.
“I’ve got no complaints about our team tonight,” he said.
Dallas outscored New Orleans 50-24 in the paint and tied a season low with seven turnovers. Six Mavericks scored at least 14 points.
“That’s why it is a team,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “We’re a strength-in-numbers type of team.”
Dallas played its third consecutive game without center Tyson Chandler (bruised left hip).
The victory kept the Mavericks a half-game behind the fifth-place Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference.
New Orleans, seeking its first playoff berth since 2011, dropped a game behind eighth-place Oklahoma City in the West.
Pelicans: Cole has scored in double figures in five of six games since being acquired from Miami. … Alexis Ajinca had 13 points and a game-high 12 rebounds off the bench.
Mavericks: Bernard James, nearing the end of his second 10-day contract, made his second start at center in Chandler’s place. … Amare Stoudemire got his most playing time with the Mavericks (22:45) and equaled his scoring high with the team (14 points) in his fourth game with Dallas.
Mark Cuban Gnome Night at AmericanAirlines Center took place hours after the announcement that the Mavericks owner will play the President of the United States in Sharknado 3. “People were fighting for my spot,” Cuban said.
WAITING FOR DAVIS
Williams offered no update on when Davis will return. “We don’t want to put a timetable on it because that puts pressure on,” the coach said. “We know A.D. and where his heart is. When he can play, he’ll be the first to tell us.”
The Pelicans host Detroit on Wednesday.
The Mavericks begin a three-game road trip at Portland on Thursday.
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