The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Orlando Magic on the road Monday night, winning 117-102. Luka Doncic scored 29 to lead Dallas, with Kyrie Irving dishing out 10 assists for the second straight game. Franz Wagner led the Magic in defeat with 22.
With Doncic and Irving both questionable to play on the second game of this back-to-back, this matchup with the Orlando Magic had all the ingredients for a scheduled loss. It was a turn of fortune, then, that both ended up playing against a Magic squad dealing with their own injuries. Perhaps walking into Orlando and leaving with a win has become muscle memory at this point, but this Orlando squad has proven itself to be a tough draw so far this year, and they jumped all over Dallas early in this game.
Despite having their two superstars in the back court, the Mavs got off to a slow start, going down by as much as 15 in the first half. Then, just as they did against the Hornets, the team slowly and methodically worked their way back and earned another win. It’s a good sign of resilience that Dallas didn’t just roll over against a solid Magic squad when they went down.
Taking a punch
As mentioned, it was all Orlando early in this contest. The Magic, similar to Charlotte, was shooting the lights out early. They shot over 63% from three and 59% from the floor in the first half. With those numbers, you may have expected them to lead by a little more than the 13-point lead they carried into halftime.
Call it shooting reversion or defensive adjustments, but Dallas came out in the 3rd quarter and held the Magic to just 17 points in the frame — compared to 33 in each of the first two. Not to mention, Dallas put up 33 points of their own, meaning they erased a scorching half from the home team in a single quarter, and Dallas was the team with the lead heading into the fourth.
Ideally, Dallas will stop having starts like they did in the last two games that require mounting double-digit comebacks, but it’s promising to see the Mavs come out the other side of the first back-to-back this season with a pair of wins.
I’ve alluded to it already, but Dallas has left much to be desired with how they started this game. To a certain extent, it can’t be helped when a team catches fire from three, but what Dallas can control are things like turnovers and points in the paint. Dallas had another uncharacteristically high turnover half, coughing up the ball 10 times in the first. The Magic took those extra possessions and turned them into 20 points. The Mavericks, ironically, swiped 12 turnovers from the Magic but were only able to convert that into 13 total points. Add to that the fact that Orlando outscored Dallas in the paint 34-to-14, and outrebounded them 19-to-10, and it begins to become clear that Orlando was winning the effort battle early on.
Fortunately, and somewhat unexpectedly, though, it was Dallas — the road team on the second night of a back-to-back — that came out in the second half with an increased focus and energy that helped them leave with the win.
Big time Tim
Tim Hardaway Jr. wants to be a starter. He’s essentially said as much on a number of occasions. But tonight was a shining example of how effective Hardaway Jr can be as Dallas’ leading bench scorer.
There had been trouble in past seasons bringing Tim off the bench, as his shooting numbers tended to suffer His numbers as a starter versus as a bench guy were stark, and if Hardaway isn’t scoring, well, he’s not doing what he’s in the game to do. It made Dallas less versatile. This year, though, Hardaway’s been coming off the bench and tonight was perhaps his best game. Yes, he was hitting his threes going 4-for-11 on the night, but he was also aggressive and effective inside the arc, where he went 4-of-5 and he finished with 21 points. He led Dallas with nine points in their big third-quarter comeback and was a steady source of scoring in the second half.
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