The Orlando Magic delivered their best defensive effort of the season, holding Luka Doncic to his first below-30-point night of the year and the Dallas Mavericks to under 40 percent shooting in their 94-87 victory on Wednesday evening while playing without rookie sensation Paolo Banchero.
Doncic, an early-season MVP candidate, scored 24 points on 9-of-29 shooting from the floor (31 percent). This was basically the worst shooting performance of his career. He hadn’t before ever made fewer than 10 shots while attempting at least 29 of them. Prior to Wednesday’s game, he had taken 29-plus shots nine times and in all those games shot over 40 percent.
The Magic closed the game on a 12-4 run. It started with a Terrence Ross floater that put Orlando in front. A couple possessions later, Chuma Okeke, who also helped guard Doncic down the stretch, drilled a 3-pointer off a Franz Wagner dish. Wagner, who finished with a team-high 22 points, connected on a one-legged step-back fadeaway with 2:09 left to extend the Magic’s lead to seven.
Orlando outrebounded Dallas 49-29. Wendell Carter Jr. grabbed 12 of those boards. The Magic also outscored the Mavs by 10 in the paint. The last time the Mavs scored 87 points or fewer in the regular season was when they had 77 against the New York Knicks on March 9 of last season.
Quote of the Day
"The Orlando Magic are honored to have the opportunity to recognize all of the brave women and men who sacrifice so much in service of our great country. We are proud to partner with L3Harris for the 19th season to thank and recognize those in uniform - including those we’ve lost, our veterans, along with all of their families, for the sacrifices they have made and continue to make on a daily basis. On behalf of the Magic organization, we express our gratitude and want them to know they are our heroes." – Magic CEO Alex Martins on Seats for Soldiers Night
Banchero (sprained left ankle), Kevon Harris (left rib contusion), Cole Anthony (right internal oblique muscle injury), Markelle Fultz (toe), Moe Wagner (sprained right midfoot), Gary Harris (left knee rehabilitation), and Jonathan Isaac (left knee rehabilitation) were out for the Magic. Christian Wood (knee) and Davis Bertans (knee) were unavailable for the Mavs.
This Day in History
On Nov. 9, 1994, Shaquille O’Neal posted 46 points and 20 rebounds and Horace Grant tallied 25 points and 15 rebounds, as the Magic defeated the Charlotte Hornets in an overtime thriller. Alonzo Mourning led Charlotte with 26 points, while Larry Johnson scored 25. Dell Curry, the father of Steph and Seth Curry, had 20 points.
Everyone knows just how incredible Doncic is. The question, though, is whether Dallas’ supporting cast is strong enough. Acquiring Wood was a great move for them. But come playoff time, they will need a few of their role players to step up – just like Jalen Brunson did for them in last year’s playoffs. Spencer Dinwiddie and Tim Hardaway Jr. are more than capable. Also key for them is playing top-notch defense. Currently, they are just outside the top 10 in defensive efficiency.
From one Western Conference power to another, the Magic will now host the Phoenix Suns on Friday at 7 p.m. The Suns, who were upset in the Western Conference Semifinals by the Mavs after posting the league’s best regular season record last year, seem extra motivated this year. Entering Wednesday’s NBA action, they were in second place in the West, behind the surprising Utah Jazz. Through 10 games, Devin Booker is averaging 27.1 points, 4.2 rebounds and 5.1 assists.