By John Denton
January 20, 2013
In just his fourth game back after missing three-plus weeks with a shoulder sprain, Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis led the Magic with 24 points. Jameer Nelson had 20 points, four 3-pointers, six rebounds and five assists, and he might have been robbed of his biggest play of the night.
With Orlando down 107-105 following a clutch 3-pointer by J.J. Redick (18 points), Redick surprised Dallas’ Vince Carter by stripping the ball out of his hands. Carter accidentally hit Nelson in the mouth and was able to tie him up, resulting in a jump ball. The 6-foot Nelson tried to win the jump ball against former dunk champion Carter, but he rose too early and Carter tipped the ball to Dirk Nowitzki.
``I had the ball, but I don’t know what happened after that,’’ Nelson said. ``And then on the jump ball, I just jumped too early.’’
The Magic will be off on Monday before heading to suburban Detroit to face the Pistons on Tuesday night. The Magic are 2-0 this season against the Pistons, winning 110-106 in Detroit on Nov. 16 and 90-74 in Orlando on Nov. 21.
Orlando will then host Toronto (Thursday) and Detroit (Sunday) before embarking on a five-game, eight-day trip along the East Coast.
Long before then, the Magic must find some answers if they want to get back to their winning ways from early in the season.
``I don’t think our defensive aggressiveness is as high as it was,’’ said Magic center Nikola Vucevic, who registered his 21st double-double of the season with 14 points and 11 rebounds. ``We took some bad shots and they got some easy shots on the other end.’’
Seven Dallas players reached double figures in scoring, led by Shawn Marion’s 20 points and 10 rebounds. Carter, who played in Orlando from 2009-11 and hails from Daytona Beach, scored 15 points and hit three 3-pointers off the bench.
Down nine points at intermission, Orlando made a charge early in the third quarter to get within two points of the lead. But each time they got close, Dallas was able to hang on by consistently getting good looks on the offensive end of the floor. Five different Mavs had hit double figures in scoring in the first three quarters, and remarkably, Nowitzki was not one of them.
The Magic trailed 57-48 at the half, something that had to be especially frustrating after jumping to a 14-point lead in the early going.
Orlando fell into a halftime hole because they were shredded defensively. At one point, Dallas made 22 of 32 shots against the Magic defense. Dallas outscored Orlando 30-12 in fastbreak points and 10-2 in fastbreak points in the first half. And despite missing six of its first seven shots, Dallas still shot 58.1 percent in the first 24 minutes.
Locked and loaded following the disappointment of Friday’s loss to lowly Charlotte, the Magic got off to a stellar start and led 14-2 in the first 4 minutes. And by the time Dallas had called its second timeout, Orlando was seemingly coasting along at 20-8. But that’s where the early fun ended for the Magic as Dallas ripped off a 15-0 spurt to take the lead. Orlando went more than 5 minutes without a field goal and struggled to stop the Mavs in transition.
Struggling in his return from a sprained shoulder, Davis got going early and kept the Magic close in the first half. He did a little ebit of everything early on with 14 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals in the first half.
Nelson said the Magic will turn their season around only when they get back to playing the same kind of gritty defense that they played early in the season.
``We just have to continue to work and do things together. Hopefully we can turn it around and get some stops,’’ Nelson said. ``You play your defensive scheme and you play as hard as you can. … I think individually you have to take pride in what you do.’’
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