Image Credit: @dallasmavs twitter
On Saturday, the Dallas Mavericks return home to the American Airlines Center to play the Orlando Magic following a three game road trip that saw them go 2-1 in that timeframe. The Mavericks are coming off a team win that saw them rally from behind and eventually seal the deal in overtime for a 124-117 win over the Denver Nuggets. Entering the new year of 2021, the Mavericks are able to get off to a 3-1 start following ending 2020 with a 1-3 record. Rick Carlisle went with a lineup change that saw Willie Cauley-Stein and Maxi Kleber in the starting lineup and so far that’s paying off as the team is 2-0 with that lineup. The Mavericks entered this game 6th in the western conference with a 4-4 record as they try to keep pace with the rest of the pack.
On Thursday, the Mavericks played the Denver Nuggets to end their 3 game road trip, looking for their first winning streak of the season. Luka Doncic came within one rebound shy of his second straight triple-double finishing with 38 points, 13 assists and 9 rebounds. Nikola Jokic scored 38 points with 20 of them coming in the second half and grabbed 11 rebounds for Denver. Jamal Murray finished with 21 points and nine assists. The Nuggets were leading by one in the final seconds of the game until Maxi Kleber hit a three pointer to put Dallas up 109-107 with 2.4 seconds left. To force overtime, the Nuggets went to Nikola Jokic to hit a clutch 18-foot jumper as time expired. In overtime, the Nuggets got within three on a 3-pointer from Jokic but Doncic was able to ice the game by scoring four straight points for the Mavericks.
The Orlando Magic are coming into this game after suffering their third largest margin of defeat in team history to the Houston Rockets to drop their record to 6-3. Despite the loss, the Magic still find themselves near the top of the eastern conference with the four seed. The Magic are coming into this season looking to return to the playoffs as they were eliminated by the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round last season. Orlando lost some key players in free agency that includes D.J Augustine signing with the Milwaukee Bucks and Wes Iwundu signing with these Mavericks. They were able to get some talent back in drafting Cole Anthony with the 15th overall pick, whose averaging 9.3 points per game to this point in the season. The Magic were rolling recently until they suffered a setback that resulted in losing Markelle Fultz and Johnathan Issac for the season with torn ACL’s. They are looking to maintain momentum in the eastern conference.
Entering this game versus the Magic, the Mavericks swept the Magic by winning both of their meetings last season. The Mavericks have won 25 of the last 34 matchups against the Magic, with the home team winning the last 10 straight. In both meetings last season, Luka Doncic averaged 30 points while Nikola Vucevic averaged 23 points per game against each other. Overall, the Mavericks lead the all-time series with a record of 36-27.
The Mavericks started this game shorthanded as Jalen Brunson, Dorian Finney-Smith and Josh Richardson were ruled out due to “health and safety protocols” that would pave the way for Tim Hardaway Jr and rookie Josh Green to be in the starting lineup. It wouldn’t matter as the Magic got off to a nice start by making their first five shots of the game for 10 points. Despite his cold start, Tim Hardaway Jr found a groove and would hit his next two shots to pull the Mavericks within one point from the lead. Luka Doncic would hit a circus shot as he was fouled and was able to complete the three point play to give the Mavericks their first lead of the game at 11-10 with 7:28 left in the first quarter as part of an 8-4 run. Coming off a full timeout, the Mavericks were able to get a stop on defense and transform it into points on the other end to go on a 7-4 run after trailing by six in the early stages of the quarter. Luka Doncic would find Dwight Powell for an easy two-handed slam to increase the lead to nine points and that would result in the Magic calling a timeout. In the final 2:00 minutes of the quarter, Luka Doncic got involved by draining a 28-foot three pointer while also finding a wide open Trey Burke for another three pointer for six quick points to increase their lead to 12 points. A technical foul was called on Luka Doncic with 32.8 seconds that would result in Terrance Ross making the technical free-throw but the Mavericks would end on a 6-3 run to close out the quarter with the score 36-27.
The Magic tried to get on a rhythm by making their first two shots at the start of the second quarter as they try to chop the Mavericks lead. The Magic were able to generate some stops on the defensive end that would transform into points as they would generate a 6-2 run to cut the lead within five points as Rick Carlisle saw enough and used a timeout with 9:03 left. Coming out of the timeout, the Magic allowed a Tim Hardaway three pointer with 1.8 seconds left in the shot clock to kill the run. The Magic saw them go on a scoring drought as they tried to find a way to chop off the Mavericks lead as they couldn’t afford to buy a three basket. Max Kleber was able to capitalize on the Magic scoring drought by draining a three point jumper as part of a Mavericks 10-6 scoring run. The Magic decided to use a full timeout as they try to wake up the three point shots as they are going to need them in this game if they want any shot at winning this game. In the final 2:00 minutes of the quarter, the Magic would hit jonly their second three point field goal of the game as they maintain distance of these Mavericks. The first half would end with the Mavericks leading the Magic 56-50. The Mavericks shot an impressive 10 of 19 (52.6%) from behind the arc, you compare that to the Magic’s 2 of 15 (13.3%) and you see why the Mavericks are leading. The Mavericks had three players score in double digits with Trey Burke leading the way with 16 points as Luka Doncic was flirting with another triple-double. With the Mavericks being shorthanded, it was important that everyone got involved and Luka did just that as he was responsible for 30 of the 56 points in the half. Nikola Vucevic would need more production from his teammates for the Magic as he was the only player in double digits with 14 points. The Mavericks were shooting well from three and that was in large part of Tim Hardaway Jr and Trey Burke hitting a combined 8 of 11 from three point land. The Mavericks just have to clean up on defense and they will find themselves on the winning end of this one but it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish games. Consistency has been a problem for the Mavericks as they look to try to remain consistent heading into the third quarter.
Coming out of the half, the Magic saw themselves within three points of the Mavericks as Cole Anthony made a 28-foot three point jumper in the early stages of the third quarter. The Magic were hanging around with the Mavericks as they saw their confidence in shooting the ball rise up. The Mavericks better be careful to not give the Magic any hope of finding a way to take the lead or else they could be in trouble. Right on cue, the Magic have climbed all the way back to tie the game at 59-59 with 8:36 left by a James Ennis III dunk in transition off the Mavericks turnover. There’s no reason for the Mavericks to give the Magic a chance to tie the game as they got off to a slow start in the quarter. If the Mavericks could protect the ball and prevent turnovers, this game would’ve been a blow out. Coming off the Rick Carlisle timeout, the Magic took their first lead since it was 10-9 in the first quarter by going on a 15-3 run to take a 65-59 lead. The Mavericks have not been able to make a shot in the quarter in the first five minutes as Rick Carlisle had to take another timeout with 7:05 left. The Mavericks looked out of sync during this quarter as they found themselves down six points. The first made field goal would come with 5:48 left in the quarter as you could thank Tim Hardaway Jr for ending the drought as they hadn’t made a field goal since there was 2:11 left in the second quarter. Tim Hardaway put the Mavericks back up by two points thanks to hitting a step back three pointer as he started to catch fire. With the Magic taking a timeout with 3:17 left, Tim Hardaway Jr was feeling it as he scored 16 points for the Mavericks to give them any sign of life. Trey Burke was able to give the Mavericks 5 points in the quarter as it was badly needed otherwise the Magic would’ve ran away with it in the third quarter. Thanks to better playing in final 5:00 minutes of this quarter, the Mavericks would take a 85-75 lead with Luka Doncic hitting a three at the buzzer as they were feeling it from three point land. The Mavericks were trailing by six points and were able to erase that to take a 10 point lead heading into the fourth quarter. The Mavericks were able to hit 10 three’s as they were feeling it from behind the arc in the quarter. The Magic had an opportunity to make a run to overtake this game but they didn’t want it.
In the final quarter, Trey Burke continued his impressive performance by hitting a two point shot in the early stages of the quarter to give him 23 points up to this point. The Mavericks can’t afford to give the Magic another crack at this game as it is extremely important to put them away and not turn the ball over. Coming out of a successful coach’s challenge by the Magic, they couldn’t use that to their fuel as they looked to be running out of gas by not stopping Trey Burke. Boy if Trey Burke was in Fort-Worth and the basket was as the American Airlines Center, he would find a way to make it as that’s how hot he was feeling it. This was an volcanic eruption by Trey Burke as he had 29 points with 7:05 left in the game to give the Mavericks a 95-81. This game would be simply be known as the “Trey Burke Game” as the Mavericks were feeding him the ball and he was he draining them. Keep in mind that Tim Hardaway was also having himself a game with 30 points as the Magic simply had no answer. The Magic would need to create some “Magic” on offense as the Mavericks begin to put this game away midway through the fourth quarter. The Magic were able to do just that as they climb all the way back to cut it within 9 points with 3:36 left in the game as the Mavericks went into a “Cold Spell”. Luka Doncic was able to record another Triple-Double by hitting Tim Hardaway Jr for a 27-foot three point jumper with 1:49 left in the game giving the Mavericks a 108-94 lead. The Mavericks effectively ended any of the Magic’s hopes of winning this game with the clock being in their favor.
This team looked sluggish to begin this game but they would catch fire in the second half thanks to Tim Hardaway Jr and Trey Burke having themselves a game. The Mavericks gave the Magic a chance but they didn’t want as bad as the Mavericks. The Mavericks had trouble with protecting the ball in the first half but they were able to fix it in the second half. As the famous saying goes “They had us in the first half” as the Mavericks went on a volcanic run in the second half to put these Magic away for good.
In the end, it was the Mavericks clinching the victory by beating the Magic 112-98. The Mavericks improve their record to 5-4 on the season as they now find themselves with a three game winning streak as they look to have Kristaps Porzingis soon. Tim Hardaway had the most points scored since joining the Mavericks with 36 points. The Mavericks desperately needed production from other players and Trey Burke delivered by having a 29 point performance. This is the first the Mavericks have been above .500 this season as it couldn’t of come at a better time. With this win, they keep pace in the tough western conference as they are within 1.5 GB the top seed. Luka Doncic finished with a 20 point, 10 assist, 11 rebound triple-double in this game. The Mavericks shot an incredible 20 of 40 from three point land and anytime you shoot 50% from behind the arc, you will most likely take home a win as the Mavericks did.
The Mavericks will stay at home to finish their mini two game home stand when they will face the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday. They will carry a three game winning with them heading into this game.