The Dallas Mavericks have been on a downhill slide for quite some time, losing eight of the past nine games and needed to pick up a win against the Orlando Magic before a brutal three-game stretch against the Rockets, Spurs and Nuggets.
Unfortunately, the Mavericks came out flat in front of the Orlando crowd and could never quite recover. The Magic were hot from deep which helped them jump out to a 62-47 lead at the half. In the third quarter, the Mavericks were able to cut the lead to six, but the Magic responded and put the game away by the end of the third quarter.
Dallas was led by Luka Doncic’s 24 points and eight rebounds but it didn’t matter as Nikola Vucevic dominated with 20 points, 13 rebounds and six assists and led Orlando to a 111-106 win that wasn’t really as close as the final score depicts.
Jalen Brunson’s continued development
That’s really what these games are about at this point in the season, and for some reason, Brunson really likes playing against the Magic. In the first tilt, the second round pick posted 17 points and four assists, and tonight, the Villanova product contributed 18 points and nine assists while shooting an efficient 8-of-11 from the field and turning the ball over only twice.
It was widely expected that Brunson, a four-year player in a pro style system, would transition well to the NBA, and his showing in extended minutes has proven just that. Brunson’s feel for the game, the tempo at which he plays and his basketball IQ all paint a picture of a quality role player in the NBA. In a grim twist of fate, Brunson’s development would never have grown at this trajectory if J.J. Barea had been healthy, but good players seize opportunity.
I know I said in the point above young players’ development - like Brunson’s- is what these games are all about, but I lied. It’s all about Dirk. He’s earned that much. So witnessing him collect accolades is just as sweet as ever. Tonight, Dirk passed John Stockton for third all time in games played at 1,505. He now trails only Kareem Abdul-Jabar (1,560) and Robert Parish (1,611).
The Big German finished the game with 15 points (on 6-11 shooting) and grabbed five rebounds, bringing him only 40 points behind Wilt Chamberlain for sixth most in NBA history. Dirk was in a three-game slump, so it was nice to see him have an efficient night.
The Mavericks were torched from deep
The Magic started the game out hot, and that was really the nail in the coffin. The Mavericks aren’t even remotely talented enough to claw out of an early hole, and the Magic made matters worse by shooting 48 percent from three. Terrence Ross was throwing rocks into the ocean, canning six of his 11 attempts, but D.J. Augustin and Jonathan Isaac also chipped in multiple threes.
The Mavericks have now lost nine of the last 10 and have upcoming dates with the Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs and Denver Nuggets. Buckle up.