Culture of Hoops

Dallas Mavericks pick apart Orlando Magic

Image courtesy of Scott Mecum/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Scott Mecum/Flickr.

Finishing up a five-game West Coast road trip, the Orlando Magic stopped in Dallas to take on the Mavericks on Monday night. The matchup was the second of two this season between the foes, both of which were won by Dallas. Monday night, unlike their previous meeting, was not close, with the Mavericks taking home the win 107-88. The loss was the Magic’s eighth in a row, and sixth straight by 16 points or more.

The first half started quickly for Dallas, seeing them knock down six of their first seven shot attempts. While it balanced out, their quick start paved the way for a big lead come halftime. The Mavericks saw their lead balloon to as many as 22 before settling in at 18 at the halftime buzzer. Dallas shot a sizzling 53.7 percent, while the Magic struggled some, shooting 42.1 percent.

In the second half, the Magic looked re-energized, hitting shots and making the game somewhat interesting. While they continued to struggle on the defensive end, the offense looked somewhat more fluid, and they were able to fight their way back into the game. The Magic cut into the lead from the start of the third, getting it down to as few as nine at the end of the period. Unfortunately for the Magic, the hole they dug themselves was too deep.

Dallas finished the game with a balanced scoring attack with six guys finishing in double figures. Monta Ellis led all scorers, finishing with 21 points. Former Magic man Vince Carter poured in 17 points off the bench. Forwards Dirk Nowitzki and Jae Crowder finished with 15 and 14 points, respectively. Point guard Jose Calderon knocked down three three-pointers en route to 13 points, while sharpshooting guard Wayne Ellington scored 12 points off the bench.

As for the shorthanded Magic, the starters were the only group of players who really scored. Jameer Nelson led the team with 21 points, including four made three-pointers. Glen Davis was right on Nelson’s heels, finishing with 19 points and a game-high eight rebounds. Maurice Harkless chipped in 13 in his second straight start. Victor Oladipo and Tobias Harris rounded out the Magic bunch in double figures, finishing with 11 and 10 points on the night.

Magic Game Notes

Defense Struggles

It’s beginning to be a problem night in and night out for the Magic men. They struggle to find consistent stops and get anything going on the defensive end to help open up their offensive game. They started the season looking like a potential force defensively, but have fallen off a cliff, especially recently. They’ve given up 101 points or more in six straight, including 120 against the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night. Their rotations are slow, they aren’t rebounding well, teams are finding holes to get easy looks, they struggle to get back and set their defense at times and don’t play good transition D. They’ve got players who are good individual defenders, but as a team they’ve struggled and will continue to if they can’t start to string together stops.

Depth Tested

For the second game in a row, the team was without leading scorer Arron Afflalo, who’s dealing with a foot injury. The team played basically the whole road trip without center Nikola Vucevic and reserve guard Ronnie Price. Already having a smaller roster after waiving both Hedo Turkoglu and Solomon Jones, the Magic have been tested with the recent rash of injuries and illnesses. John Denton of says that the team hoped that Afflalo would be able to practice on Tuesday and play against the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday. The status of both Vucevic and Price are currently unknown as they were both home for much of the trip. They have two roster spots open, and unless a trade is brewing, need to find someone, even if it’s only a 10-day contract to fill one or both of those spots.

Non-existent Bench

Part of this is due to the depth being tested, but some of it is the inconsistency of playing time for some players. Andrew Nicholson, one of the team’s most talented offensive players, struggles to find consistent playing time, playing only seven minutes tonight. In those seven minutes, Nicholson scored six points, the most of anyone off the bench. They were without typical bench members Victor Oladipo and Maurice Harkless, but the struggles of the guys who needed to step up are concerning. The team could be relying on those guys more later in the season, and if they’re unable to up their production, the losses will continue to pile up.

Stat of the Night

Vince Carter outscored the Magic bench by himself, 17-14, with the complete differential being 42-14.

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