ORLANDO – Dirk Nowitzki matched his season-high point total Friday night in front of a sellout crowd of 19,196 fans at the Amway Center. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to beat the Orlando Magic.
Terrence Ross came off the bench to pour in 22 points and the Magic held on to defeat the Mavs, 111-106. The loss dropped the Mavs to 27-38 overall and 0-3 on this three-game trip through the Eastern Conference going into Sunday’s 6 p.m. home game against the Houston Rockets.
Nowitzki played 19 minutes, went 6-of-11 from the field and finished with 15 points and five rebounds. He also received another loud standing ovation throughout the course of the game.
“It was good to get a little rhythm there,” Nowitzki said. “I missed my first three, but then mixed in a couple of makes, and in the second half I felt good.
“We tried to make a run to come back, but just overall we just got to find a way to win a game. That’s more frustrating than anything.”
This was the ninth loss in the last 10 games for the Mavs, who fell to 6-27 on the road.
The Magic stretched a 69-63 lead midway through the third quarter into a 92-73 lead by the conclusion of the third quarter. It was still 101-83 Orlando with 7:50 remaining in the game before the Mavs caught fire and closed to within 111-106 of the Magic with 47.9 seconds to go.
However, Luka Doncic missed a 3-pointer with 22.7 seconds left, and Tim Hardaway missed a 3-pointer with 13 seconds left and the Wizards ran out the clock from there.
Part of the Mavs’ problem, according to coach Rick Carlisle, was the deep hole they dug themselves in before they rolled up their sleeves and started to fight their way out of it.
“You get down 19 at any point in an NBA game, the odds of getting back and winning are very difficult, especially on the road,” Carlisle said. “You’ve got to play close or play from the front.
“We had a poor start, the second quarter was rough, but the second half we did better. We just got to stay in the fight.”
Orlando (31-36) shot 48.3 percent from the field and converted 14 of their 29 baskets from behind the 3-point arc. In the meantime, the Mavs converted 47.2 percent of their shots, but missed 24 of their 34 attempts from 3-point land.
“They had a good shot-making night,” said Carlisle, noting that the Mavs were behind, 29-19, after the first quarter. “We allowed them to get open a few times too many in the first half.
“In the second half we played better. I like the way we hung in and fought through it and stayed in the game. We got to get home and try to get healthy and go from here.”
Doncic paced the Mavs with 24 points, eight rebounds and five assists, Jalen Brunson had 18 points and a career-high nine assists, Hardaway collected 15 points and six rebounds, and Dwight Powell added 13 points, six rebounds and two steals.
“I thought Brunson had one of his best games,” Carlisle said. “His paint attacks were productive, he found people, he was aggressive, I thought he defended hard. He’s a young player getting better every game.”
The Mavs outscored the Magic in fast break points (20-10) and in points in the paint (56-42). But Ross was 6-of-11 from behind the 3-point line, Nikola Vucevic finished with 20 points, 13 rebounds and six assists, and Jonathan Isaac added 14 points and nine boards, and that was more than enough to stymie the Mavs’ comeback bid.
“We had three opportunities to bring ourselves back into the game,” said Hardaway, who was 1-of-7 from 3-point range. “I missed a whole bunch of wide-open threes that I’m just really, really upset about knowing that I could do so much more for this team in order to get wins.”
NOTES: Prior to Friday’s game against Orlando, coach Rick Carlisle was asked about the progress of forward Kristaps Porzingis, who the Mavs acquired in a Jan. 31 trade with the New York Knicks. Porzingis hasn’t played since Feb. 6, 2018 when he tore his left anterior cruciate ligament during a game against the Milwaukee Bucks. “Without getting into too much detail, he’s doing extremely well and ramping up individual workouts and some one-on-one workouts, which includes some full court work, so progress is steady and very positive,” Carlisle said. “Beyond that, we’re trying to keep that stuff behind closed doors because just out of respect to him — and he’s a private guy. We’ll try to update you guys when we can and when the time is right, but he’s doing real well.”. .Dirk Nowitzki moved past John Stockton and in sole possession of third place on the NBA’s all-time games played list when he played in his 1,505th game on Friday. The two players ahead of Nowitzki on this illustrious list are Robert Parish (1,611) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1,560). . .Dirk Nowitzki and Magic All-Star center Nikola Vucevic hung out a bit together during the All-Star weekend in Charlotte last month. Vucevic, who becomes a free agent on July 1, counts Nowitzki as one of his childhood idols. Both Nowitzki and Vucevic were teammates on the All-Star squad drafted by Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo. . .Salah Mejri blocked three shots against the Magic on Friday, tying his season high that he recorded during a Feb. 23 game at Utah. . .With his 24 points Friday, Luka Doncic has scored 20 or more points in 36 games this season. He also now has 37 games with five or more assists after he collected five assists against Orlando. . .Carlisle gave his assessment on rookies Luka Doncic and Jalen Brunson playing in the backcourt at the same time. This is the first time since he joined the Mavs in 2008 that Carlisle has given two rookies extended playing time. “Look, both of these guys have unique experiences,” Carlisle said. “Doncic has been the MVP of Europe and in a couple of different leagues and won a few championships. Brunson’s a two-time national champion in the last three years. These guys have an unusual experience level in big games, so they’re not typical in that sense. I’ve loved working with both of them, and they’ve both gotten better and they both respect each other and have played well together.”. .Just before the third quarter started Friday night, a video was shown on the Jumbotron of Mavs assistant coach Darrell Armstrong receiving a trophy on Thursday for his work in the Central Florida area. Armstrong, who played for the Orlando Magic from 1995-2003, created a foundation in 1998 that supports families in Central Florida who have babies born prematurely. . .Carlisle said he’s very optimistic guard J. J. Barea will make a successful return to the basketball court. Barea underwent surgery on Jan. 14 to repair the rupture of his right Achilles tendon. “He’s has a history of being a very good healer,” Carlisle said. “He had shoulder surgery several years ago and did extremely well with that. He’s always healed well. He’s a diligent attention to detail guy with his rehab and exercises. I’m looking at him returning to the court. Beyond that, he’s going to be an asset to any organization he’s involved with. He’s just a winner. But I know he’s more focused on the playing aspect next year, and so far his rehab’s going real well. So, knock on wood and we’ll keep plugging away at that.”