Recap: Hustle plays, fourth-quarter rally lifts Mavs past Magic
Recap: Magic 96 at Mavericks 111
Hustle plays, fourth-quarter rally lifts Mavs past Magic
DALLAS — After injuries, roster turnover and countless setbacks left the Dallas Mavericks with an uphill climb while entering the final 30 games of the regular season sitting six games below .500, Wednesday night offered a new opportunity to make a strong push towards the postseason.
Welcoming in the NBA’s second-worst team, the Orlando Magic, and looking to improve to 12-2 at home this season when hosting a team on the second night of a back-to-back, the Mavericks returned to action following a week-long hiatus due to the All-Star break. They then went in search of a win to kick-start the second portion of the season, looking to replicate a 111-105 victory in Orlando back on Jan. 20.
And although they would once again be pushed for the better part of 48 minutes, the Mavericks (24-29) would finish their five-homestand in style with a 4-1 mark, downing the Magic (15-39) for a 10th time in the last 13 meetings between the two teams after a 111-96 victory.
“Well, we understand that they have some guys that can make shots and some young guys that tend to play well at times and put up big numbers. And so we wanted to come out and just take it one game at a time on this 30-game stretch and make sure that we came out with the win,” leading scorer O.J. Mayo said of the victory after sending the Magic to a ninth straight road loss and 26th defeat in the last 29 games.
Looking to get off to a fast start to the night after falling behind 18-4 in Orlando last month, the Mavericks quickly imposed their will in the opening quarter while jumping out to a 9-2 lead out of the gate. Meanwhile, former U.S. Air Force staff sergeant and rookie second-rounder Bernard James gave the Mavs an early lift inside after welcoming members of the armed forces on Military Appreciation Night prior to the game.
Mayo and backup big man Elton Brand then lifted the hometown team to a clear-cut advantage before sixth man Vince Carter’s buzzer-beating 3 boosted the Mavs to their highest-scoring quarter of the season and a 42-30 lead entering the second period.
Turning to their bench to start the second stanza, the Mavericks kept the two squads at a safe distance on the scoreboard as the Dallas reserves continued to provide a spark. But, after getting into the bonus with 7:39 left in the first half, the Magic would slowly start to slice into its deficit at the free throw line while trimming the Mavs’ advantage from 16 to as little as two. And following a 5-of-21 second quarter, the Mavs entered the halftime intermission with just a 59-53 edge.
Led by Brand’s 15 first-half points and 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki’s 11 points on a combined 9-of-15 shooting, the Mavs held the slight advantage despite getting outshot through 24 minutes of action, 46.3 percent to 45.7 percent. Both teams also battled to a 22-all stalemate in the rebounding department and an 18-18 split in points in the paint to the midway mark.
“Our start to the game was better, but then the defense in the first half was not good enough,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle confessed. “I mean, they were shooting 60 percent most of the way through the first quarter. We were shooting it good, too, but we just don’t want to get into that mentality of trading shots and trying to outscore somebody. You’ve got to get traction and get stops to be the kind of team we want to be.”
Coming out of the locker rooms, the Magic would clearly become the aggressors to start the second half, taking the first lead of the night at 62-61 with 8:51 left in the third on Nikola Vucevic’s score inside. Arron Afflalo and rookie Moe Harkless would take matters from there, lifting the Magic to a lead as large as six.
“We needed something going,” Nowitzki admitted. “They made a huge run there in the third. We couldn’t really get any stops and obviously the crowd wasn’t really into it much, because we gave them nothing really to cheer for.”
But in an instance the game would change on an end-to-end sequence that started with a save by four-time All-Star Shawn Marion, leading to a block by Mayo that translated from a defensive stand on J.J. Redick’s driving attempt to a 30-foot alley-oop lob to Carter for the thunderous slam. The Mavs then had all the momentum they would need to carry them the rest of the way.
“I mean, O.J. made the play and made it all happen,” Carter said. “I mean, it was a great save from Shawn initially, a great recovery, great block, he got his own rebound and made a great pass. We need those multiple efforts if we want to win. We have a lot of ground to cover getting back into it, and when we got (into the locker room) Coach [Carlisle] showed it again, because that’s what we have to do.”
Carter followed that with two 3-pointers from both wings as the Mavs fought back, utilizing a 10-3 spurt to close the quarter and taking an 83-82 edge into the fourth.
A jumper by reserve guard Mike James and a 3 to follow by rookie Jae Crowder continued to separate the two squads as the Mavs tried to pull away to start the fourth. The 37-year-old point guard then found big man Brandan Wright for a slam as the Mavs tried to hold the charging Magic off, taking a 97-90 lead on yet another 3 by Carter.
“They made a run back at us a little bit there and we were able to open up in the fourth quarter and seal the win,” Marion simply said.
Back-to-back connections from Carter to Wright then elevated the Mavs to a 101-90 advantage with 3:54 to play, before 3s by Marion and Mike James put the game away a short time later to conclude a 17-0 run that ended with meaningless scores by the Magic with the game no longer in doubt.
“They did a great job and just kept attacking, and got us in the bonus early in that second quarter. But third quarter, we knew they played last night, so we wanted to come out with a lot of energy and just keep playing hard, hoping that they would break down. Offensively, we kept moving the ball well and getting good shots, and they finally started falling again for us in the third and fourth quarters. And we came out with the win,” Mayo concluded.
Matching Brand for team-high honors, Marion tallied up 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting and added eight rebounds. Meanwhile, Carter scored 14 points and dished out eight assists off the bench, while Mayo finished with 13 points and Mike James and Nowitzki both added 12 points. The Mavs also dished out 32 assists as a team while committing just nine turnovers on the night.
“We had to have that one,” Brand said of the team effort. “It was a tough game, we didn’t start off the game the way we wanted to, they took the lead and that hustle play where O.J. gets the block, Vince gets the dunk and then comes down and gets the 3 really got the crowd into it and then got us into it.”
Afflalo led five Magic players in double figures with 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting, but the Mavs’ 47.7 percent bettered Orlando’s 45.9 percent. The Mavs also collected a 44-43 rebounding edge, overcoming Orlando’s 44-36 advantage in points in the paint.
The Mavs will now venture back out on the road for one game, returning to action Friday night in New Orleans for the first of three matchups against the Hornets in the final 29 games of the regular season. The Hornets lead the season series between the two teams 1-0 after a 99-96 win in Dallas back on Jan. 5. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 7 p.m. CT.
"Now, we've got to get ready for Friday," Carlisle said while quickly turning his attention to the next game. "New Orleans is an improving team and they beat us last time, so it's going to be another tough game."
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