The Dallas Mavericks are at the bottom of the NBA and off to their worst start in nearly a quarter of a century. Help doesn't seem on the way.
"It's not what we prepared for, but it's kind of the hole we dug ourselves in," veteran guard Devin Harris said. "We've just got to continue to fight. I mean, we've shown stretches where we've played well, but we've yet to put it together for a full game.
"You know, we've had some close ones and have kind of dwindled at the end, but we've just got to continue to look at the positive and try to put it together for as many minutes as we can during this stretch."
The Mavericks are 1-8 for the first time since 1993-94 and in a stretch of games that don't offer much in the way of layups.
The New Orleans Pelicans (3-5) arrive in Dallas for a Friday night clash at American Airlines Center with a losing record and their own set of issues.
The Pelicans, losers of two straight, are still searching for their identity. What has been clear through eight games is New Orleans is one of the most careless teams in the league.
Six times in the past seven games, the Pelicans turned the ball over at least 15 times. Through Wednesday's games, they ranked 24th in the league in turnovers.
"We know what we have to do," Anthony Davis said after New Orleans gave up 27 points off turnovers on Wednesday in a 104-98 home loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. "I think we're trying to get into our mix a lot, isolation basketball, and then when it's not there, we try to force passes.
"We should hit the guys as soon as they're open. We try to make those passes a little too late, so they end up becoming turnovers. We've got to get back to sharing the basketball."
Despite Davis and DeMarcus Cousins forming the league's most productive big-man duo, the Pelicans can't find any consistency. Cousins is the NBA's second-leading scorer at 30.1 points per game, and Davis is fifth at 27.1 points. Both are also averaging double figures in rebounds, Cousins fourth in the league at 13.0 per game and Davis fifth at 12.1.
That production isn't translating into wins.
"We're still a team that's trying to figure each other out and figuring what's best for us and the best spots to put guys in," Cousins said. "I'm extremely confident in this team. One thing I know for sure is we don't give up. We're been battling some of the craziest deficits and found ways to get back in the game."
Dallas coach Rick Carlisle shook up the lineup Wednesday at the Los Angeles Clippers by starting Harris. The move paid off initially as the Mavs were up eight early, but the second team struggled mightily without Harris in the 119-98 loss.
"It was a little bit different," Harris said. "Obviously, usually I'm trying to catch the pace when I come into the game, and starting you get to set it a little bit better. And I thought we got off to a good start, but I'm not going to get used to it.
"I know it's not something (Carlisle) likes to do. I think anything is on the table right now to try to get us out of this rut. We're going to try some different lineups and see what works."
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