Denton's Dish: Magic vs. Mavericks (3/30/12)
By John Denton
March 30, 2012
ORLANDO – The Orlando Magic could be upset that Dirk Nowitzki made another one of those off-balanced, one-footed bank shots or that Jameer Nelson missed a potential go-ahead free throw or that Ryan Anderson came up short on a gimme at the buzzer.
But in the end, the primary culprits for Friday’s crushing 100-98 loss to the all-world Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks were the mistake-prone Magic themselves.
Once up 77-62 late in the third quarter, the Magic (32-20) turned the ball over eight times over the final 14 minutes of the game to key a game-tying run by the Mavericks (30-23). Nowitzki did the rest, hitting a seemingly impossible bank shot over Hedo Turkoglu with 5.9 seconds to play.
``It shouldn’t come down to that (Nowitzki shot), but it did and we had a chance to tie it and I blew it,’’ said Anderson, of his attempted put-back at the buzzer. ``Ultimately, we have to play the whole game. We’ve been talking the whole season about playing a whole 48 minutes. They made a great run and we didn’t have answers. We have to consistently play the entire game.’’
Added J.J. Redick: ``We had the lead when we were taking care of the ball, but turnovers got them back in the game. It’s a game we were in position to win and should have won if we would have done a few things better.’’
Magic forward Hedo Turkoglu was in the middle of much of the Magic’s misery at the end. Not only did he finish with five turnovers, but he had a dunk attempt blocked with the Magic up one with 1:13 to play. Turkoglu played good defense on Nowitzki’s back-breaking shot to no avail and then he missed an open 3-pointer with three seconds remaining.
``We’ve got to make shots because we had some good, open looks,’’ Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. ``We have two free throws to go up one and we make one out of two; we get a wide-open three for Turk; and we get a wide-open put-back for Ryan. We executed well, but we have to get the ball in the basket.’’
Nelson had 24 points and Anderson added 21 points and three 3-pointers. Dwight Howard had 19 points and 15 rebounds, but missed nine of his 16 free throws. But the turnovers were once again the undoing for a Magic team that entered the game ranked 26th in the league in turnovers. Turkoglu had five, Nelson and Redick had three apiece, while Earl Clark and Chris Duhon had two miscues.
``We had 12 turnovers in the second half and almost all of them go for baskets the other way,’’ Van Gundy fumed. ``That’s what got them back in the game and that’s what the problem is. We keep doing it, doing it, doing it and doing it. It’s an area where we’re not getting better in. … The turnovers, until we get that under control we have no chance to beat good teams on a consistent basis – none.’’
Nowitzki scored 28 points, making three of four shots with two assists in the fourth quarter. Jason Terry had 10 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter, while Delonte West (15 points) drilled a big 3-pointer with Dallas down four points with 1:34 to play.
- Nelson and Anderson had solid games marred by poor plays late in the game. Nelson carved up his boyhood idol, Jason Kidd, much of the night by making nine of his first 13 shots through three quarters.
But Nelson struggled with his shot down the stretch. And with the Magic trailing by one point with 26 seconds to play, Nelson made the first free throw, but misfired on the second one.
Anderson bounced back nicely from a back outing in New York on Wednesday, hitting six of 12 shots, three of six 3-pointers and grabbing four offensive rebounds. But his last board of the night came on Turkoglu’s missed 3-pointer, and Anderson hurried his follow-up from point-blank range.
``I didn’t think I had much time,’’ said Anderson, who showed tremendous professionalism by facing postgame questions. ``I was surprised that I got such an open rebound and I thought I had to rush it up because we only had five seconds left (before Turkoglu’s shot) and I rushed it.’’
- Anderson has made strides defensively this season, but asking him to guard Nowitzki solo without any double-team help most of the night was almost cruel.
Nowitzki, who will go down one day as one of the most skilled power forwards in NBA history, carved up the Magic early on with 18 points. In the first half alone, Nowitzki made two 3-pointers, two one-footed jump shots and eight free throws. He was even better in the fourth quarter and joked afterward about whether or not he called `bank’ on his game-winning shot.
``We will never know,’’ Nowitzki said. ``The good thing is I shoot it off the glass a lot. So now I will have (everybody) guessing. I put a little extra arch on it and it fell in.’’
- Turkoglu had good intentions much of the night, but his passing led to a miserable night with turnovers. Turkoglu had 12 points, four rebounds and four assists, but the five botched passes ruined the effort.
Many of Turkoglu’s turnovers came when he went up to shoot the ball only to see a cutter breaking into the open. But because those players often turned their heads and went to the boards, they resulted in turnovers that jump-started Dallas fastbreaks.
Said Van Gundy: ``When you go up for a jump shot guys are going to turn to the boards. So you (turn the ball over) once you think you would learn.’’
- Dallas’ Terry offered up a somewhat troubling quote after the game. Apparently the Magic have earned a somewhat unflattering reputation around the league despite having the third most wins in the East and the fifth most in the NBA. Amazingly, the visiting team in this series has won each of the last eight games and Dallas has won in Orlando six straight times.
Said Terry, whose Mavs were 1-19 prior to Friday when trailing entering the fourth quarter: ``Watching Orlando all year long we know that they’re a team that has relinquished a lot of leads just because of the way they play. They’re either going inside or shooting threes. If you live by the three you are going to die by it. As long as we got the rebound we were going to get baskets on the other end. We were optimistic and we knew as long as there was time on the clock that we had an opportunity.’’
- The Amway Center crowd got its loudest all night in the fourth quarter when Anderson took a Nowitzki shoulder to the chest and fell to the floor – with a blocking charge called on the Magic power forward. Anderson exaggerated the hit somewhat, but seemed to have beaten Nowitzki to the spot.
Anderson, who seconds earlier had hit two free throws to put Orlando up 93-91, responded to the controversial call by grabbing an offensive rebound over Nowitzki and scoring to put the Magic up four points.
- Van Gundy believes that Earl Clark has the potential to be an elite defender some day because of his long arms and ability to move his feet. Clark was used early and often in Friday’s game to defend Lamar Odom and Nowitzki and he performed admirably.
He ended the first quarter with a steal and a dunk. He contributed six rebounds and four points in the first half in addition to his stellar defense. He finished the game with seven boards.
- Redick, who has a ``Better Basketball’’ video out on shelves showing young players how to shoot with the perfect form, marvels at the way Nowitzki can take and make shots from awkward angles.
``He’s one of the best offensive players in the world and one of the best I’ve ever seen in my life. Sometimes he just hits shots that make you shake your head. With his size there’s nothing you can do about his shot. The last shot was defended well and I still don’t know how he banked it in.’’
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