Four starters sitting doesn't mean a forfeit for Mavs

NEW ORLEANS – Who needs Dirk Nowitzki? Or Wesley Matthews, Deron Williams and Zaza Pachulia, for that matter?

Not the Dallas Mavericks. At least not Wednesday night, when they managed to pull out a 100-91 win over the New Orleans Pelicans despite four starters resting 24 hours after a double-overtime victory.

"Nah, we need those guys," guard Raymond Felton said with a smile after scoring 12 of his team-high 22 points in the fourth quarter and playing 37 minutes. "I'm tired. C'mon back!"

The Mavs' resting regulars, all of whom played 40 or more minutes in Tuesday's thrilling win over the Sacramento Kings and three of whom are on the wrong side of 30, will return to the starting lineup Friday night in Milwaukee. The Mavs will have momentum as they head north.

Buzzer-beaters to win in double overtime tend to boost a team's morale. So does seeing so many players make significant contributions in a victory the next night, particularly the ones who usually don't get much burn.

The Mavs might not have won this game without Felton taking over in crunch time, much the way he did in a Nov. 14 road win over the Houston Rockets, when the Mavs' three highest-paid players sat out on the second night of a back-to-back.

The Mavs probably don't win this game without Chandler Parsons, the lone regular starter in the lineup despite a bruised hip that prevented him from finishing the previous night's game, playing his best all-around game of the season. Parsons had season highs in points (21) and rebounds (eight) and also dished out six assists.

But the visitors locker room at the Smoothie King Center was buzzing about a couple of guys who seized opportunities that haven't come often this season.

Rookie swingman Justin Anderson gave the Mavs 17 good minutes, his most extended playing time since the second night of the season, not counting his D-League appearances. Anderson's stats (5 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal) won't overwhelm anyone, but his energy was essential to the Mavs outscoring the Pelicans by 13 points with the first-round pick on the court.

Jeremy Evans, a six-year veteran who is so determined to improve that he has volunteered for D-League assignments this season, played 25 minutes, his most since the season opener. The Mavs were plus-16 during that time, with Evans contributing eight points, five rebounds and a steal.

A case can be made to add second-year forward/center Dwight Powell to that list. He has been a rotation player for most of the season, but his role has been diminished recently, and he didn't play a second during the double-OT win. He responded with a 13-point, 10-rebound double-double off the bench against the Pelicans.

"We've always talked about that next-man-up mentality," said veteran reserve guard Devin Harris, who had 10 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals and was a team-best plus-20 in 26 minutes. "It's not a position that we haven't been in before.

"Really, I think it gives guys opportunities, guys that don't normally see that amount of minutes. These guys are hungry. They work really hard and stay ready for opportunities like this. I'm just happy that they came out and showcased what they can do."

Added Parsons: "It shows how professional they are and what those guys are about. They don't get to play all the time, but when their number is called, they step up and they produce. It took everybody tonight."

Well, not everybody. Carlisle thought Nowitzki, the 37-year-old legend who has been grumbling since the schedule came out about the Mavs having 18 games this month, needed a night off. Carlisle, in consultation with head athletic trainer Casey Smith, made the same determination about Williams, Matthews and Pachulia.

But Carlisle made it clear to the rest of the Mavs that sitting four starters wasn't an excuse to wave the white flag.

"Coach said before the game that we're going to win this game," Parsons said. "We had enough firepower in this locker room to beat this team. We never doubted that."

And they won't let the four starters who sat out forget about it, at least not until Friday.

"Guys sitting out hear about it, I can tell you that," Carlisle said. "It's fun. It's a fun thing."