The Orlando Magic avenged a loss earlier in the season to the Dallas Mavericks by defeating the Mavs 97-82 on Thursday night. After a sloppy first half, the Magic dominated the second half and held off a small, late Mavs’ ralley. The Magic are now 16-3 in their last 19 games and have won three in a row. Vince Carter lead the Magic with 19 points while Dwight Howard scored 17 points, grabbed 20 rebounds, and blocked five shots. Mickael Pietrus came off the bench to score 24 points. Dirk Nowitzki scored 24 points for the Mavericks.
The first half was poorly played both teams. Dallas shot just 15-of-43 from the field (34.9%) in the first half while the Magic shot just 14-of-37 (37.8%) from the field and just 6-of-24 (25.0%) on two-point field goals. Orlando was able to grab a seven-point halftime lead because they were fantastic from beyond the arc, shooting 8-of-13 from three-point range before the break. The Mavericks were just 1-of-7 from downtown in the first half. Neither team had a lot of turnovers, with the Magic giving it away five times and the Mavericks turning it over six times, but both teams made some poor decisions and took some bad shots. Not only did the Magic take some very difficult shots, but they had very poor ball movement.
In the second half, Orlando played much better. They did turn the ball over seven times and had a rough stretch, turnover-wise, midway through the fourth quarter, but overall, their offense ran much more smoothly. They had much better ball movements. Rather than taking tough runners in the lane or settling for long two-point jumpers, the Magic drove and either kicked the ball out to a teammate for an open shot or attacked the basket with a lot more strength and power. The Magic still managed to hit six of their 11 three-pointers, but shot much better from two-point range, going 15-of-24 from inside the arc in the second half.
For the game, the Magic wound up shooting an effective field goal percentage of 58.3% while the Mavericks, who made just four three-pointers in the game, shot 40.7% eFG.
To be fair, Dallas missed some shots that they usually make and obviously had tired legs after playing an overtime game on Wednesday night.
Credit still must be given to Orlando’s defense. Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy thought that the Magic’s defense was “solid, outside of some dumb fouls.”
Dwight Howard was excellent…as usual. With Vince Carter and Jameer Nelson struggling early in the game, Howard not only played incredible interior defense, but showed off his post moves in the first half. Howard opened the game by going baseline and hitting a hook shot, which lead to nine first quarter points for the big man. He finished with 17 points in the game. Howard was dominate on the glass, grabbing 20 rebounds. He blocked five shots and altered several others, all without picking up a single foul in 41 minutes of play. After the game, Howard joked that the “0″ under personal fouls on the stat sheet must have been an April Fool’s joke.
Mickael Pietrus played for the first time in a week-and-a-half and showed absolutely no signs of rust. Van Gundy said that Pietrus was never iffy and went through a very difficult practice on Wednesday, so it should come as no surprise that he played well. However, it is unlikely that anyone thought Pietrus would be a perfect 6-of-6 from downtown or score 24 points in just 19 minutes, but that’s exactly what he did. Pietrus’ teammates did an excellent job of getting him open looks and he knocked them down. Pietrus made three three-pointers down the stretch that put the game out of reach.
Vince Carter was very quiet through three quarters, scoring just seven points on 3-of-10 shooting in his first 24 minutes. In the fourth quarter, Carter shot 5-of-7 and finished the game with 19 points, even hitting a long jumper on what was an obvious heat check. Carter seemed to have an answer for everything that the Mavericks threw at the Magic in the fourth period. After J.J. Barea hit a three-pointer to cut the lead back to 15, Carter answered with a three of his own. When Jason Terry cut the lead to 10 with 4:35 to go, Carter immediately responded with a jumper.
- Jameer Nelson had an up-and-down game. He scored 14 points and had seven assists, but turned the ball over six times.
- Van Gundy used Ryan Anderson for two minutes in the first half but said he wasn’t happy with his defensive disposition and inserted Brandon Bass the next time Rashard Lewis sat down.
- Bass played well on both ends of the floor and has made obvious strides on the defensive end. He finished with eight points and two rebounds in 11 rebounds.
- Dirk Nowitzki finished with 24 points but did not score in the fourth quarter.
- J.J. Barea and Jason Terry each scored 16 points off of the bench.
- The Magic are now 5-0 on three days rest.
- The Magic have now defeated every team except one – the Memphis Grizzlies. The Magic host the Grizzlies on Sunday evening.
Next Up: There is no time for the Magic to celebrate this one – they travel to San Antonio to take on the Spurs on Friday night.
Final Thought: The Mavericks had tired legs but it’s always encouraging to get a win over a 50-win team on the road.
(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger and a contributor at NFL Mocks and Sir Charles In Charge. Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Twitter to follow him daily and you can get the HTD app here).