Magic Unable to Slow Down Hardaway, Burke in Loss to Mavs

by Josh Cohen

The Lead

There’s just something about playing the Orlando Magic that brings the best out of both Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr., who were both sensational on Saturday. Hardaway, a career 13.5 point per game scorer, erupted for a season-best 36 points and Burke, averaging 10.5 in his career, also had a season high with 29, as the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Magic, 112-98. Twice before in his career, Burke has scored 30-plus against Orlando, an opponent he also made a game-winning shot against in the past. It was the second time in Hardaway’s career that he exploded for at least 30 against the Magic.

Key Stat

Defending the 3-point line was one of the Magic’s main strengths through the team’s first eight games. That, however, did not translate on their two-game Texas road trip. A night after giving up 22 threes to the Houston Rockets, the Magic were once again unable to seal off the perimeter on Saturday in their matchup with the Mavericks, who knocked down 20 of their 40 3-point attempts. Hardaway buried eight of them, Burke made seven and Luka Doncic, who recorded a triple-double with 20 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, drained three triples.

Top Performer

One of the NBA’s best players this season so far has been Nikola Vucevic, who once again was spectacular on Saturday. Orlando’s 7-footer matched his season high with 30 points, making 14 of his 24 shot attempts. He also hauled down 15 rebounds, the fourth time this year he tallied at least 20 points and 10 boards. Also remarkable about Vucevic, an All-Star in 2019, is how infrequently he fouls or turns the ball over. He didn’t commit a single turnover during Saturday’s loss.

Key Stretch

A 15-1 run gave the Magic a six-point lead midway through the third quarter. In that stretch, Aaron Gordon made a pair of shots, including a 3-pointer, and Vucevic, Dwayne Bacon and James Ennis III each hit one. The Mavs, however, responded with an 18-2 run to take complete control of the game. Hardaway caught fire during that span, and James Johnson and Burke also connected on shots.

Player Spotlight

Perhaps the Magic’s most improved player this season is Khem Birch, who made all four of his field goal attempts on Saturday and finished with 12 points, eight rebounds and three steals. Now in his fourth season with the Magic, Birch has become more of an offensive threat. In addition to being a scoring threat when he rolls into the paint, the 6-foot-9, 233-pound big man has extended his range. He made his first 3-pointer of his career on Friday in Houston.

Injury Report

Evan Fournier missed his fifth straight game with back spasms, while Michael Carter-Williams (foot), Chuma Okeke (left knee) and Al-Farouq Aminu (right knee) remained out. Gordon, who sat out Friday in Houston just as a precaution, recorded 16 points, four rebounds and five assists in his return. The Magic are being careful with Gordon and his left hamstring, which he injured in a seeding game against the Raptors at Disney in August. Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac both are recovering from torn ACLs and will not be available the rest of the season.

Quote of the Night

“They’re just versatile. Vooch is really good at attacking closeouts and moving without the ball. A.G. is a really good point forward, so they’re just showing their versatility and all the different things they can do.” – Terrence Ross on Vucevic and Gordon taking on expanded roles with all the injuries.

Up Next

The Magic will be back at Amway Center for a Monday night showdown against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. This game will also feature D.J. Augustin playing against his former team for the first time since signing with the Bucks during the offseason. Milwaukee beat Cleveland on Saturday, with Khris Middleton leading the way with 27 points. Antetokounmpo, the reigning back-to-back league MVP, sat out with back spasms.

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