The Dallas Mavericks fell on the road to the Orlando Magic, 110-108. Chuma Okeke led a balanced Orlando effort, scoring 19 points. Luka Doncic had 34 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists in the loss, a triple-double which put him as 10th all time with triple doubles, tying a mark set by Fat Lever.
On the second night of a back to back, Luka Doncic got going early and didn’t waste any time letting Mo Wagner hear it after finishing a contact layup over him in transition. Josh Green quickly checked in, knocking down an early three-pointer and then setting a down screen to get Dorian Finney-Smith an open three on a possession shortly thereafter. To end the quarter, Marquese Chriss came over to help on what looked like it was going to be an easy layup. Chriss got there just in time, coming in with a ferocious swat to get Dallas the ball back. Doncic brings the ball down, finding Brunson in the corner who knocks down a buzzer-beating three in front of the Mavs’ bench. Dallas led 34-23 after one period of play.
Dallas got off to a slow start in the second, but coach Jason Kidd neglected to call a timeout to slow down the Magic’s momentum. The Bally Sports Southwest group noted that Kidd intends to teach this group to play through the tough stretches to prepare for situations where he might be low on timeouts and can’t afford to burn one to allow them the luxury of regrouping. Jalen Brunson continued his impressive offensive stretch, finishing the first half with 13 points. The Magic got hot from three and basically everywhere, outscoring Dallas 41-25 in the second quarter. Dallas went into halftime down 64-59.
The third quarter started off slow with Dallas missing several open shots while giving up easy buckets on the defensive end. Orlando built up a sizable lead, but Dallas managed to answer with a Reggie Bullock corner three and a strong alley-oop finish from Chriss. Chriss followed up on the next play with a contact finish off of another tough pass from Doncic. The quarter ended with Dallas down just three after a rather rough quarter.
Orlando came out aggressive to start the fourth. Doncic and Chriss displayed their growing chemistry on the offensive end. It wasn’t enough, though as the Mavericks faltered horribly in the final minutes of the game, unable to hit any meaningful shots. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough, and the Mavs went cold, going scoreless in the final 5 minutes of the game. Dallas left Orlando with their 22nd loss, falling 110-108.
Too many turnovers
Going into tonight, the Mavericks ranked second in the league in fewest turnovers committed at 12.4. Dallas finished the night with 18 turnovers, 6 committed by Doncic alone. With Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr. being unavailable, the rotation was significantly different than what we’ve seen in January. Coach Kidd was forced to use lineups that haven’t logged many minutes together, resulting in unforced errors and miscues on both ends of the floor. Hopefully tonight proves to be an outlier looking back.
The Doncic-Chriss connection
One of the bright spots in tonight’s matchup was the chemistry that continues to develop between Doncic and Chriss. Chriss sets hard screens and has a good feel for when to roll, which makes Luka’s life a lot easier. The former eighth overall pick finished with 14 points, 4 rebounds, 4 steals and 2 blocks. He was Dallas’ third-highest leading scorer and closed out the game at the five. Chriss’ minutes will be huge if the Mavs are going to be without Porzingis for another stretch of time. Something else to note is how his play might affect their moves at the deadline. Does Chriss make it easier for them to include Dwight Powell or Maxi Kleber in a deal if it comes along? It’s certainly a conversation worth having.
Closing out the game
The Mavs shot 42.1 percent on 38 three-point attempts which is great, but when you miss your final seven attempts and go scoreless for the final five minutes of the game, that’s pretty hard to watch. The Mavericks got good quality looks but simply failed to convert. The Dallas defense down the stretch was pretty solid but going that cold for that long is never going to end well. Dallas returns home to play the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday to kick off a six-game homestand. Hopefully they can maximize on that stretch and climb their way up to the forth seed.
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