Orlando, despite being down their leading scorer in Arron Afflalo and leading rebounder in Nikola Vucevic, put up a fight, and got strong contributions from veterans Jameer Nelson(21 points), Glen Davis(19). Dallas held leads as high as 22 points, but a roller-coaster second half saw the Magic get as close as six, then go back down by 18, then get to within nine again halfway through the fourth quarter, before a final blow put the game out of reach.
For Dallas, strong ball movement provided some nice open looks from outside, and the three point shot was falling. They finished 13-27 from deep, receiving bombs from seven different Mavs(in other words, everyone except the centers and Gal Mekel).
With this win and a Phoenix loss in New York, Dallas has moved up to 7th place in the West.
The first half looked about like what you'd expect, given Orlando's record and the key pieces missing from their lineup. A Jose Calderon three opened up the largest advantage of the night, at 58-36. They shot 54% in the first half, including 5/11 from deep, but were doing quite a bit of damage inside, with 22 points in the paint(a good chunk of this coming on Monta Ellis drives).
The second half was a bit bumpier. Orlando began the third quarter on a 16-4 run, with 10 points coming from Glen Davis. The lead was seven points at 63-57, and star Dirk Nowitzki was noticeably short on his attempts after taking a blow from Tobias Harris that caused him to grip his arm in pain.
Fortunately, other Mavs were able to step up. Most surprising was Wayne Ellington, who scored eight points in the third en route to his best game of the season and helped fuel a 12-0 run that rebooted Dallas' 18 point margin.
Give Orlando credit. Though low on firepower, they kept battling, and once again climbed back to within single digits after a Jameer Nelson three made it 91-82 with five and a half minutes left. Back-to-back Vince Carter jumpers would stall their run, however, and a 9-0 spurt for the Mavs put the lead back to the magic number(no pun intended) of 18 at 100-82. So, the blowout that almost wasn't, was again.
- Dirk and Monta did most of the heavy lifting early, but it was the bench that secure the victory. A resurgent Vince Carter -- who is shooting 51% from the field (and 52% from three) in his last five games -- was big, and the most encouraging performance came from Wayne Ellington, who had season highs of 12 points and six rebounds. Ellington hit his open looks, like we all thought he could, but he also made several nice hustle plays (like a loose ball that he kicked out to Jose Calderon for a shot-clock beating three) and moved really well without the ball. A productive Ellington would be big in reducing the wear and tear on Monta and Vince.
- Jae Crowder started once again in place of injured Shawn Marion, and was stellar. Early on he had a beautiful cut to the basket for a layup, and he hit a pair of triples. He also had three steals and didn't turn the ball over, moving the ball along when he didn't have the right look.
- Samuel Dalembert also started, but played just 19 minutes after getting into foul trouble. Four fouls, three turnovers, and two points.
- Despite Dalembert's foul trouble, Dallas actually managed to outrebound their opponent tonight. They've now done so in two of their last nine games.
- Ricky Ledo saw the floor for the fourth straight game, scoring 5 points. It seems Dallas has little desire to keep him down in the D-League, so every time he acquits himself when in the game is pretty important. Ultimately, there does not appear to be much room for him on the roster this year, but you wonder if the trade deadline -- a little over a month away -- might open up slightly more PT. Having depth at a certain position might make the front office less concerned about pulling the trigger on a deal.