DALLAS (AP) — Harrison Barnes scored 19 points and Dirk Nowitzki had 18 points and nine rebounds as the Dallas Mavericks ended a three-game losing streak by beating the New Orleans Pelicans 96-83 on Saturday night.
The Pelicans fell to 0-2 since trading for DeMarcus Cousins and pairing him with Anthony Davis.
Davis had 39 points and 14 rebounds but scored only 12 in the second half. Cousins finished with 12 points and 15 rebounds.
Seth Curry scored 10 of his 13 in the fourth quarter to help Dallas pull away. His 3-pointer with 4:49 to play gave the Mavericks an 84-72 lead, and the Pelicans never got closer than six after that.
Nerlens Noel made his Mavericks debut with nine points and 10 rebounds while playing steady defense against Davis and Cousins in the low post. Noel punctuated his performance with an uncontested dunk in the final 30 seconds off a stolen inbounds pass.
Noel’s presence inside also helped free Nowitzki for outside jump shots, and the veteran forward delivered an 8-for-12 shooting performance.
With Cousins limited to 11 minutes in the first half because of foul trouble, Davis took over with 27 points and 10 rebounds. He scored New Orleans’ final 13 points of the second quarter.
Jrue Holiday had 18 points for the Pelicans, but he committed a crucial mistake at the end of the third quarter, fouling Barnes on a desperation heave some 60 feet from the basket. Barnes hit all three free throws with 0.6 seconds left in the period for a 67-63 Dallas lead.
Noel made his Mavericks debut at the 6:57 mark of the first quarter to a loud ovation. He met with the media prior to the game, calling his trade from Philadelphia “a very fresh start that probably was needed.”
“I had a tough few years in Philly but I think it made me stronger in a lot of ways, mentally and physically,” Noel said. “It isn’t easy but when you come out of it, you feel proud for yourself for how you handled it.”
Of the Mavericks, Noel said: “It’s a competitive team, starting with (owner) Mark Cuban. He brings a lot of competitiveness into the organization. This is a team that wants to get back to the promised land, competing for championships.”
While Noel came off the bench in his first game with the Mavericks, coach Rick Carlisle said it would only be a matter of time before Noel becomes the team’s starting center.
“He’s the type of player that you almost have to have in the league now to have success,” Carlisle said. “You’ve got to have the long, angular guys that can protect the rim and can be a threat at the rim.”
Pelicans: New Orleans played without starting shooting guard E’Twaun Moore (personal reasons) and backup center Omer Asik (illness). . Davis played his 315th game with the franchise, tying P.J. Brown for third all-time behind David West (530) and Chris Paul (425).
Mavericks: Curry, who scored a career-high 31 points Friday night, has averaged more than 15 points per game since becoming a starter on Jan. 12. The Mavs are 12-8 in those games. If Noel moves to starting center as expected, Curry will likely come off the bench again. . Dallas won for just the second time in 12 tries on the second half of back-to-back games.
Pelicans: At Oklahoma City on Sunday for their final matchup with the Thunder, who have beaten New Orleans in all three previous meetings this season.
Mavericks: Host Miami on Monday, the second game of a stretch in which Dallas plays seven of eight at home.