By John Denton
February 20, 2013
DALLAS – All it took was one game-changing, momentum-flipping play late in the third quarter Wednesday to undo a night of mostly stellar play from the Orlando Magic.
With Orlando leading in the third quarter and seemingly poised to surge by eight points, Dallas guard O.J. Mayo pinned a J.J. Redick layup against the glass. Mayo then chased down the loose ball and got it ahead for a Vince Carter dunk and seconds later a 3-pointer that sent a jolt of energy into the Mavericks and the crowd at the American Airlines Center.
Dallas used the game-changing sequence to flip the script on the game and ruin one of the Magic’s grittiest efforts in weeks. Dallas slowly pulled away in the fourth quarter from Orlando, who lost point guard Jameer Nelson to an ankle injury and then lost 111-96 on Wednesday.
``Unbelievable momentum shift, and you’ve got to give credit to them for staying with the play and tracking it down,’’ Magic coach Jacque Vaughn admitted. ``If that thing goes in, we’re up eight and momentum is still in our favor. They come back down and make a three and it shifts the tide of the game. But, hey, that’s just part of basketball.’’
Nelson badly twisted his knee with 4:49 to play, killing any chances that the Magic had of rallying down the stretch. The result was a particularly frustrating one for a Magic team that played gritty defense and shared the ball well in the middle two quarters of the game to surge into the lead.
Orlando (15-39) lost for a second time in as many nights and dropped its ninth straight game on the road. Down as much as 16 points in the first half and on the verge of getting blown out, the Magic gamely outplayed Dallas (24-29) in the second and third quarters to lead by as much as six points.
Arron Afflalo, who delivered a fiery pep talk to the team on Tuesday about its lagging defense, led Orlando with 21 points and seven assists. J.J. Redick, whose name has been linked to trade rumors the past two weeks, had 10 points, but he made just three of 12 shots and one of five 3-pointers. Redick admitted he can’t wait for the trade deadline to pass and said he was almost neutral now to whether he’s dealt or not.
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