Magic Unable to Slow Down Luka Doncic, Mavs in Loss

by Josh Cohen

The Lead

These last three games, the Orlando Magic have had to go up against three of the most potent offensive teams in the league, the Brooklyn Nets, Utah Jazz and Dallas Mavericks. All three rank in the top five in scoring over their last 10 games. In each contest, unlike what they were able to do when they won four of five before this grueling stretch, the Magic were unable to clamp down defensively. On Monday, it was the duo of Luka Doncic, who finished one assist shy of a triple-double with 33 points, 10 rebounds and nine dimes, and Jalen Brunson that did the majority of the scoring damage for Dallas, which edged Orlando, 130-124, at Amway Center.

Top Performers

Nikola Vucevic flirted with a triple-double with 29 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists. He had recorded his third triple-double of his career earlier this season. Evan Fournier, meanwhile, scored 26 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field and 5-of-8 from 3-point range. He is now tied with Jameer Nelson for third on the franchise’s all-time made 3-pointers list. The 6-foot-7 shooting guard left the game with a groin injury early in the third quarter, returned later in the period but did not play down the stretch in the fourth.

Key Stretch

After Vucevic pulled the Magic within five with a 3-pointer with 3:26 left in the third, the Mavs scored eight unanswered points to reclaim a double-digit advantage. In that stretch, Dwight Powell had a pair of dunks, Brunson scored two of his 23 points and Tim Hardaway Jr., who has historically played well against Orlando, made a bucket, although he finished with just five points.

Key Stat

The 130 points scored by Dallas was the second most by an Orlando opponent this season. Houston put up 132 back on Jan. 8, when the Rockets still had James Harden and Christian Wood was healthy. Prior to Monday’s loss, the Magic were 5-0 this year when they had reached the 120-point mark.

Rookie Watch

Chuma Okeke knocked down two of his three 3-point attempts. Over his last eight games, the 6-foot-8, 230-pounder has made 10 of his 20 tries (50 percent) from beyond the arc. Three-point shooting is a major strength of his, which he displayed in his two seasons at Auburn where he buried just a shade under 39 percent of his attempts from downtown.

Injury Report

The Magic were without Cole Anthony (non-displaced fracture, right rib), Aaron Gordon (left ankle sprain), Markelle Fultz (torn ACL, left knee), James Ennis III (sore left calf), and Jonathan Isaac (left knee rehabilitation). Karim Mane (G League/two-way) is not with the team. As mentioned above, Fournier did suffer a groin injury during Monday’s game. It was not clear what his status was after the game.

Quote of the Night

“We just didn’t defend tonight. If we defended like we know we can, we could have won the game. But, we were late on pretty much everything. I think that was the deciding factor of the game.” – Michael Carter-Williams, who scored 18 points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out six assists.

Up Next

The Magic will wrap up their first half of the season on Wednesday when they host the Atlanta Hawks at 8 p.m. ET. On Monday, the Hawks made the decision to move on from Lloyd Pierce, who was at the helm in Atlanta for 2 ½ seasons. Nate McMillan, formerly a head coach in Seattle, Portland and Indiana, will serve as the interim coach. The Hawks, sitting at 14-20, are led by Trae Young, who is averaging 26.5 points and 9.5 assists in his third season in the NBA.

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