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2 takeaways as the Dallas Mavericks fall just short against the Orlando Magic, 105-100

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NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Orlando Magic Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks fell to the Orlando Magic, 105-100. Aaron Gordon led the Magic with 20 points and four rebounds. Jalen Jones was the high point man for Dallas with 15. Both teams were playing on the second night of a back-to-back and it came through in the quality of basketball. The Mavericks rested four regular rotation players (Dirk Nowitzki, Dennis Smith Jr., Dwight Powell, and Harrison Barnes) while the Magic rested four of their own (rookie Jonathan Isaac, Aaron Afflalo, and more).

With such unfamiliar line ups, both teams looked rusty early with missed shots and sloppy ball handling. The Magic pushed out to an early lead, largely on the strength off the offensive rebounding from Bismack Biyombo. Aaron Gordon came ready to play as well and poured in 14 points in the period for Orlando. Jalen Jones kept Dallas with reach during the quarter, scoring 11. Dallas ended the quarter down 22-33.

The deep bench units started the second quarter which allowed the Mavericks to work their way back into the game. Dallas cut the lead to one three different times but could not take the lead. Bismack Biyombo continued to wreak havoc during the half, scoring 12 point and grabbing 10 rebounds, while also drawing multiple Maverick fouls. The Magic led at the half 56-51.

The second half continued the trend from the second quarter, with Dallas making runs into the Magic lead while being unable to actually close the gap. Poor shooting from both teams resulted in a two minute scoreless drought during the final five minutes that contained some of the worst shots I’ve seen all year. The Mavericks trailed the Magic entering the final quarter, 74-77.

The fourth quarter was shockingly dramatic. Orlando threatened to blow the Mavericks out by extending their lead to 90-81 with eight and half minutes left. But the Mavericks weren’t done and following a timeout exploded back with an 8 point run of their own. But the theme from previous quarters persisted; despite getting the lead down to one, Dallas could not actually take it from Orlando. The Magic once again took a five point lead before seeing it vanish to one with just under three minutes remaining. Dallas would not get another chance as the Magic hit jumpers then free throws to close out their second straight win. The Mavericks fell 105-100.

Some stuff

Rooting for your team to lose is objectively awful

In abstract I understand that it’s best for the Mavericks to lose so they have better lottery odds. But as the end of the season gets closer and these losses become more “important” the worse it feels. I’m not a journalist, I’m a fan with access to a content creation system that let’s me post my feelings online. This sucks and I don’t know how some fan bases do this year after year.

Who is making a case for consideration beyond this year?

Maxi Kleber is so active. Kyle Collinsworth is savvy as hell. Yogi Ferrell is a tiny tank. Dorian Finney-Smith ... tries hard?

While appreciating the hard play of Jalen Jones and Aaron Harrison, it’s hard to see either of them in a Dallas uniform next year. The other guys all have cases in one way or another. Ferrell strikes me as the most likely to get re-signed but he’ll be looking to make some money. The other three are very hard to rank. DFS plays hard and looks the part but he just can’t buy a bucket. Kleber doesn’t have a position. Collinsworth is a guard on a team with a lot of them already.

I don’t envy the team building decisions needed this summer. Dallas has so much work to do.