Denton: Magic-Mavericks Postgame Analysis

By John Denton
January 8, 2011


``Mr. Fourth Quarter’’ is back running the show with the Magic, and because he is Orlando continues to be on a red-hot tear that shows no signs of ending anytime soon.

Hedo Turkoglu, who earlier in the week notched the third triple-double of his career, took over a close game Saturday in the fourth quarter with his dazzling passes as the Magic rallied to shred the Mavericks 117-107 for their ninth consecutive victory.

Turkoglu, back with the Magic and playing like he did in 2009 when he led the Magic to the NBA Finals, had a career-high 17 assists, 10 points and another five steals as Orlando (25-12) came all the way back from a 16-point hole in the first half.

Turkoglu, the hero of so many fourth-quarter heroics during his first stint with the Magic from 2004-09, had 10 points, five assists and two steals in the fourth quarter alone. With the Magic trailing 81-80 to start the fourth period, Turkoglu jump-started a 28-7 burst with his passing to set up several easy shots for the Magic.

``It’s great. Every game we do something better,’’ Turkoglu said. ``We’re learning from the mistakes and trying to play better. I know we didn’t play well in the first half, but we picked it up in the second half. We made the extra pass, moved the ball and we knocked down shots.’’

Orlando hasn’t lost since Dec. 21, a game against Dallas that came just three days after the Magic had traded for Turkoglu, Gilbert Arenas, Jason Richardson and Earl Clark. Orlando’s current nine-game winning streak ties the all-time franchise record set twice before in 2001 and 1994.

It’s the first time in the Dwight Howard-Jameer Nelson era (2004-11) in Orlando that the Magic have won this many games in a row. They will get a chance to go for the franchise record on Wednesday in New Orleans against the Hornets.

``It’s a little bit unexpected because I thought it would take longer to get to the level that we are now,’’ Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said of the Magic’s impressive winning streak. ``We still have to get a lot better, but our guys have come together and played with good chemistry for a team that hasn’t been together long. I have to give them a lot of credit for that. That’s impressive.’’

Howard dominated Tyson Chandler and a Dallas team without star power forward Dirk Nowitzki with 23 points, 13 rebounds and two blocked shots. Howard made nine of 16 shots with five of those field goals coming on thunderous dunks.

Here’s a look back at what went right, what went wrong and some final observations from a come-from-behind victory that the Magic won’t soon forget:

WHAT WENT RIGHT

  • With the Magic trailing 85-82 early in the fourth period, Turkoglu went on the attack. He made a jump shot as he was fouled and hit the free throw to tie the game. Turkoglu then found Ryan Anderson on a pick-and-pop play for a 3-pointer and his 13th assist of the night. He broke his career high in assists seconds later when he found Arenas for another 3-pointer.

    Then, after Turkoglu made a one-one-one jumper over Jason Kidd, Turkoglu took an outlet pass and pushed the ball hard on the fastbreak and fed J.J. Redick for another 3-pointer.

    But Turkoglu was hardly done with a stretch of basketball that might go down as the best of the season. He stripped the ball away from Dallas’ Dominique Jones near midcourt and fed Arenas for an easy layup. And Turkoglu capped the brilliant stretch of basketball with a high-arching alley-oop pass to Howard for a dunk.

    During that stretch, Turkoglu either scored or passed for 18 straight points as Orlando stormed ahead 100-87.

    ``Hedo was great passing the ball. Clearly, 17 assists for anybody is incredible, but for a 6-10 forward that’s a phenomenal game,’’ Van Gundy said. ``(Turkoglu) made a lot of plays for us and we made a lot of shots. We couldn’t stop them for much of the game, but our offense came through and (Turkoglu) had a lot to do with it.’’


  • Orlando trailed 48-34 late in the second quarter and the tired Magic looked as if they could be in for a very long game after playing a night earlier in Orlando against Houston.

    But the Magic had a nice burst just before halftime, getting 3-pointers from Jameer Nelson, Jason Richardson and Turkoglu and three more free throws from Richardson. That critical stretch, which came with Howard on the bench with foul trouble, allowed the Magic to get to halftime trailing just 57-51.

    ``A key part of that game was in the second quarter with Dwight out, coming back to close that gap,’’ Van Gundy said. ``That was as big as the big run in the fourth quarter. They had a chance to really build a big margin and our guys hung in there and got it down to six and gave us a chance. We were only down one and had a great start to the fourth quarter.’’


  • WHAT WENT WRONG

  • DeShawn Stevenson, who played with the Magic from 2003-06, torched Orlando for 17 points in the first half alone. Most of those points came on five 3-pointers when Magic defenders backed off of him and dared him to shoot the ball.

    Stevenson, who left the Magic after opting out of his contract in pursuit for more money, has played with Washington and Dallas, hardly played last season, but has worked his way back into the rotation with the Mavs by improving his 3-point shooting.

    He entered the game ranked fifth in the NBA in 3-point shooting. He made five of seven tries from beyond the arc in the first half. In all, Dallas hit 53 percent of its shots in the first half and connected on eight of 14 3-point shots.

    Stevenson finished with a season-high 24 points, including six 3-pointers.


  • FINAL OBSERVATIONS

  • Once down as much as much as 16 points in the first half, the Magic fought all the way back to take their first lead late in the third period. The Magic surged ahead 80-79 with 1:05 left in the third period on a 3-pointer by Arenas off a pass from Redick.


  • The Mavericks were once again without Nowitzki, who is still suffering lingering pain in his sprained knee. The Mavs have to be concerned that their franchise player is still unable to jump off his knee even though being out the past two weeks.

    Dallas is also without Caron Butler – traditionally a Magic killer through the years – after he had season-ending surgery earlier this week to repair a ruptured patellar tendon in his knee.

    You’d have to think that the Mavs are in the market for more scoring punch after losing Butler, their toughest and best one-on-one player. Nowitzki certainly needs help on the offensive end, so Dallas could even use Butler’s expiring contract to try and add another offensive minded player. The Mavs looked like a team that could possibly challenge the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference early in the season, but those hopes look to be dead now.


  • Brian Cardinal, who has been traded more than a penny stock, came off Dallas’ bench and made an impact on the game. Cardinal, who is still playing on the $40 million contract given to him by former Memphis exec Jerry West, hit three 3-pointers against the Magic. He had made just 14 threes all season coming into Saturday.


  • The Mavericks had been the NBA’s streak busters this season, ending win streaks of 12 games by San Antonio, 12 games by Miami, eight victories by New Orleans, seven wins by Utah and five by Boston and Oklahoma City.

    But on this night, the Mavs were no match for a streaking Magic team that looks unstoppable offensively with Turkoglu running the show, Howard rolling down the lane and shooters all over the floor.

    ``I couldn’t do it without Stan giving me this opportunity and without my teammates knocking down shots. I just have to be aggressive and look for the best opportunity with the drive-and-kick and I expect them to make it,’’ Turkoglu said. ``We can be (really good), but we’re still learning and improving. We can’t be giving up so many points in the first half. As long as we play hard and play team basketball, I think we’re going to be good.’’


  • John Denton writes for OrlandoMagic.com. E-mail John at jd41898@aol.com. Submit a question to John for his mailbag segment at AskJD@orlandomagic.com.