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3 things as Dallas holds on against Orlando, 99-96

In the final home preseason game, Dallas leaves with the “W”

NBA: Preseason-Orlando Magic at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks faced off against the Orlando Magic Monday night in Dallas, and the Mavs improved to 3-1 in the preseason, defeating an Orlando team that was resting a good chunk of their starters.


One position seems pretty settled right now, and that’s point guard. Dennis Smith had another strong performance as the starter, with a team-leading 16 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds. He looks geared up for a serious run at Rookie of the Year, and even got to show off those hops with a hightlight reel dunk in transition late in the 2nd quarter. When Dennis sat, J.J. Barea demonstrated why he’s the ideal seasoned veteran you want backing up a talented but inexperienced rookie like Smith. With 8 points and 9 assists in 19 minutes, he already appears to be in mid-season form.

Another thing on this point: I think Rick Carlisle may have known what he was doing putting Dirk with Dennis and Nerlens with J.J. Smith, Jr. had moments running the offense where he looked a little hesitant, especially when the Magic defenders sagged way off him to take away the drives. However, he had several really nice possessions setting up Dirk for good looks, including a few of the classic trailer threes that didn’t go down this time(but you can be sure they will). It’s really a “pick your poison” between taking away Smith’s penetration or paying extra attention to Dirk’s shooting.

Barea and Noel also looked good working together, with Barea hitting Noel for a pair of sweet alley-oops. When the defense collapsed, Barea has great awareness to hit the open shooter, whether it’s at the elbow or in the corner. Having a guy who’s run a thousand pick and rolls the way J.J. has is a real bonus for Noel, and I’m not sure Dennis and Nerlens have that kind of chemistry yet.


That’s my best Walt Frazier catchphrase for you. Dirk looked good shooting the ball Monday night, going 4-7 from the field and 2-4 from behind the line. He even looked a little spry doing his best impersonation of a rim protector, getting a block and 6 boards in 21 minutes. Magic center Nikola Vucevic was held in check, shooting just 4-13.

Maybe Dirk’s “best” play was of the infamous variety, as he fell down backpedaling with no-one around him early in the first quarter. It’s an impressive feat, especially considering he seemed to take forever to actually hit the floor. You’d probably expect little else from a real-life giant.


In a smaller but encouraging development, Dorian Finney-Smith hit three triples in this game, showing off a new awkward but apparently effective shooting motion. This was just Finney-Smith’s second preseason game, as he’s been dealing with knee soreness. The timing isn’t great, because this is a very important year for “Doe-Doe”, who really needs to develop a three-point shot to stick in the NBA. For one night, anyway, he took a step in the right direction.

Dallas will go to Atlanta to face the Hawks Thursday, then close out the preseason in Charlotte against the Hornets Friday. Don’t look now Mavs fans, but the real games are almost here!