(Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images)
Earl K. Sneed reports from Orlando and previews the Dallas Mavericks' Friday night matchup against Dwight Howard and the Magic as the defending champions try to bounce back from a tough loss in Miami.
MIAMI — If there is a bright side to the Dallas Mavericks’ trip through the Sunshine State it’s that Friday night presents a new opportunity.
Falling to a 106-85 loss in Miami in a rematch of last season’s NBA Finals with the Heat, the Mavericks (29-23) were not only outscored in the game’s final quarter, they were also outexecuted.
Starting the fourth period 2-of-16 from the field, the Mavs would go on to surrender a 16-2 run to close the final 4:37 of the game. Now, the defending champions will try to bounce back against All-Star center Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic to complete their two-game road trip.
“Really, you’ve got to give [the Heat] credit. They stepped up their pressure on both ends of the floor,” leading scorer Dirk Nowitzki said of the loss after finishing with a game-high 25 points but missing all five of his shot attempts in the fourth. “They really picked up the pressure and they got into us, and we didn’t really have any good looks anymore. They really stepped up their pressure defensively, so you’ve got to give them credit.”
“We couldn’t make shots. We had some good looks, couldn’t get stops and they just kept going,” point guard Jason Kidd added. “So, we got stuck and that happens. And it’s something we can learn from.”
But Friday night the Mavs head into the Amway Center ready to duel with a Magic team they’ve topped the last five meetings in Orlando between the two squads. And fortunately for the Mavs’ sake, they may be catching the Magic (32-19) at just the right time, after Orlando faced as much as a 39-point deficit before falling in New York to a 108-86 loss in which Howard was held to just 12 points and five rebounds.
“You know, everybody is playing for a playoff spot right now. So, we’ve gotta figure out a way to get one on the road before we go back home,” Kidd continued.
“We’ll bounce back [Friday]. That’s all I got. We’ll bounce back,” added sixth man Jason Terry after a 1-of-10 night in Miami.
Meanwhile, after welcoming back new addition Delonte West Thursday night — and seeing him go 3-for-3 from the field — for the first time since fracturing his right ring finger on Feb. 15, the Mavericks are expected to be at full strength Friday with starting center Brendan Haywood back in the lineup after missing six games and sitting out a seventh due to a sprained right knee.
That should bolster the Dallas frontline as the Mavs try to replicate what the Knicks did to contain Howard inside while playing a tough back-to-back against the Eastern Conference’s No. 2 and 3 teams.
“It’s very tough, very challenging, but it’s a relatively quick turnaround,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said while looking ahead. “The travel’s not too bad. … There were a lot of good things we did [Thursday night]. We’ve got to build on those. And Orlando presents some different types of problems, so we’ve gotta get ready for them.”
Note: The Mavericks now travel to Orlando for a matchup against the Magic. The game will air Friday night locally on Fox Sports Southwest and nationally on ESPN at 7 p.m. CT.
The team returns to the American Airlines Center next Monday night when it plays host to the Los Angeles Clippers. The two teams are 1-1 in the season series with both winning on their own home floor. That game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS.
Single-game tickets are on sale and available at the American Airlines Center North Box Office, online at mavs.com, via phone by calling 214-747-MAVS or 1-800-4NBA-TIX and all Ticketmaster outlets (Fiesta Grocery Stores, Wal-Mart, Simon Mall in Garland and the Shops at Willow Bend in Plano).