ORLANDO — There’s no moral victories in the NBA.
Despite pushing the two-time defending champion Miami Heat to the brink Friday night, the Dallas Mavericks left American Airlines Arena with no sense of accomplishment after eventually falling to a 110-104 defeat. Just 24 hours later, however, the Mavericks (6-4) put the loss behind them, concluding their fourth back-to-back in the month of November with a 108-100 victory in Orlando against the young and athletic Magic.
“Against a tough, young and athletic team it’s not easy to play. They had two days to sit and watch us play, so this is a big win for us,” 11-time All-Star power forward Dirk Nowitzki said of the win as the Mavs now turn their attention to a three-game homestand. “You know, it’s a huge swing between 5-5 and 6-4. We’ve got a winning record going home for three games now.”
After not featuring a single starting lineup for more than nine consecutive games last season, the Mavericks rolled out the first unit of point guard Jose Calderon, 2-guard Monta Ellis, small forward Shawn Marion, Nowitzki and center Samuel Dalembert for the 10th straight outing. Nowitzki then picked up where he left off at Friday night in Miami while scoring a season-high 28 points in the loss.
But the Mavs would have to battle some sluggishness in the early going while playing on tired legs from the night prior. And with their team in need of a spark, the Dallas reserves would come in and boost the visiting squad to a 31-24 advantage after 12 minutes of play.
Taking over the scoring duties from Calderon as the second period began, Ellis looked to assert himself while boosting the Mavericks to a double-digit advantage. Rookie point guard Gal Mekel then took control of the Mavs’ attack, engineering the offense to perfection to keep the Magic (4-6) at a safe distance. But it would be a late score by Nowitzki that would take the Mavericks into the visiting locker room up 59-46 at the break.
Led by 10 points from Ellis on 5-of-9 shooting, the Mavs’ 54.2 percent from the field bettered the Magic’s 48.7 percent through two quarters. Meanwhile, after committing 24 turnovers in Miami, the Mavs surrendered just two giveaways through the midway mark while scoring 15 points at the other end of the floor off the Magic’s 10 first-half turnovers.
After letting the game come to him in the first half, Nowitzki quickly went to work in the third period with an array of perimeter jumpers. However, behind Magic point guard Jameer Nelson and swingman Arron Afflalo, the home team refused to go away quietly. And despite Mavs backup big man DeJuan Blair’s best efforts, the Magic closed the gap to just seven, 87-80, entering the fourth.
“We actually had a decent first half. I actually thought we should have been up a little more. I felt like there in the third we were trading baskets too much,” Nowitzki confessed. “I think we were scoring fine, but they came down every time and scored. … They’re a tough and talented team, and we couldn’t really get the stops.”
With rookie standout Victor Oladipo attacking the rim with aggression, the Dallas defense stiffened in the final period. But the Magic would force a fifth team foul on the Mavs and move into the bonus with 7:27 remaining on the clock, allowing the Orlando team to trim its deficit to as little as four with trips to the free-throw line.
But Ellis’ dribble penetration would immediately create an opportunity for Marion’s corner 3-pointer to put the Mavs up 94-87. The Dallas defense then forced a 17th Orlando turnover, which led to Nowitzki’s 3-point bomb at the other end and subsequent Magic timeout as the Mavs took a 100-91 lead with 3:10 left to play.
Ellis finish the Magic off from there, stopping in the lane for a dagger jumper before forcing a charge at the other end of the court for Oladipo’s ninth turnover of the night. The Mavs wouldn’t look back from there.
Leading six Mavs in double figures, Ellis finished with 19 points on 9-of-19 shooting while also dishing out eight assists.
“[Mavs coach Rick Carlisle] always tells me when I’m penetrating to look for my shooters,” Ellis said after attacking the lane and finding open teammates. “Sometimes I get in there and that’s the focal point. We’ve got a lot of shooters, and I just attack and try to hit the open player.”
“Monta is getting much more used to playing with our guys and where our guys are,” Carlisle added. “Tonight, he did a great job of attacking how they were playing the pick-and-rolls, he was under control, and he found two or three guys for wide-open threes at big times.”
Nowitzki and Blair added 18 points apiece, while Carter pitched in 12 points off the bench. Calderon then matched Marion with 11 points to go along with nine assists.
Afflalo finished with a game-high 25 points on 6-of-12 shooting to lead five Magic players in double figures as Orlando also outshot the Mavs, 52.9 percent to 51.2 percent. The Mavs overcame the Magic’s 40-30 rebounding edge as well by converting Orlando’s 17 turnovers into 22 points, ending the night with just 10 giveaways of their own.
“We remedied some of our problems from last night,” Carlisle said of the win. “We took care of the ball better. I thought we spaced the floor well. Defensively, you know, we didn’t do a great job when you give up 53 percent, but when you find a way to get it done the second night of a back-to-back you take it and run.”
Note: The Mavs return home Monday night against the Philadelphia 76ers. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting Mavs.com.
|Shawn Marion, F||33||11||0||2||0||8||6||2||0||1||2||3-9||2-4||3-4|
|Dirk Nowitzki, F||33||18||3||0||0||4||4||0||0||3||-1||6-12||4-6||2-2|
|Samuel Dalembert, C||23||6||1||1||2||4||3||1||4||5||-10||3-5||0-0||0-2|
|Monta Ellis, G||39||19||8||3||0||2||2||0||3||4||7||9-19||0-2||1-2|
|Jose Calderon, G||30||11||9||0||0||1||1||0||0||1||-1||5-10||1-4||0-0|
|Maurice Harkless, F||34||12||3||0||0||6||6||0||0||1||-7||4-10||0-3||4-6|
|Jason Maxiell, F||22||7||0||0||0||4||2||2||0||1||-1||3-5||0-0||1-2|
|Nikola Vucevic, C||34||16||4||2||1||8||8||0||2||4||-2||8-12||0-0||0-0|
|Arron Afflalo, G||37||25||4||0||0||2||2||0||1||0||-2||6-12||0-2||13-14|
|Jameer Nelson, G||22||15||2||0||0||4||4||0||1||1||-4||6-11||3-6||0-0|
ORLANDO — After holding their own against the two-time defending NBA champion Miami Heat before eventually falling to a 110-104 defeat to begin their back-to-back in the state of the Florida, the Dallas Mavericks will quickly try to shift their focus.
Unable to withstand their own 24 turnovers for 24 Miami points and a 39-point night from four-time MVP LeBron James, the Mavericks (5-4) would come up just short of knocking off the reigning titleholders on their own home floor Friday night. Now, with an athletic Orlando Magic team anxiously awaiting the Mavs’ arrival, the Dallas squad will attempt to make the proper adjustments to salvage a two-game road trip.
“We didn’t take care of the ball good enough to get a win, but we were still right there,” 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki explained after scoring a season-high 28 points in the loss to the Heat. “It’s tough to win on the road with 24 turnovers. … I thought we moved the ball fine, we scored fine, and it was a fun game. It’s fun to compete at the highest level against the champs, but we’ve just got to be a little better. We’ve got to be a little better defensively, and you’ve got to be a little better taking care of the ball if you really want to steal one on the road.”
“We’re a good team and we’re going to get better,” point guard Jose Calderon added. “It was one game. We couldn’t finish it, but we fought for 48 (minutes) and I think it was good effort out of everybody. LeBron hit at the end a couple of shots, we couldn’t execute as well as we’d like to, but we’ve got to bounce back (Saturday). It’s one of the best teams. It’s the champions the last two years, and we can compete against them. We’re going to be pretty good. I like my team every day a little bit more, and we’re doing a lot of things out there. We’ve got to clean up some stuff, but we’ve got to keep being positive.”
Looking to bounce back in Orlando while extending their longest active road winning streak over an opponent to eight straight victories, the Mavericks hope to catch a convenient case of amnesia while putting the loss to the Heat out of their minds. The Mavs will also try to learn from a 102-94 exhibition loss to the Magic (4-5) in the preseason back on Oct. 14, after rookie standout Victor Oladipo filled up the stat sheet with 12 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and two steals.
“It’s a dangerous team and a dangerous game,” Nowitzki said while looking towards Saturday night’s showdown. “They’re a young team. We played them obviously in the preseason, and they’re young, they’re athletic and they move a lot on offense. So it’s tough on an older team like us to keep up, but we have to find a way. … You know, there’s a huge difference between 5-5 and 6-4, obviously, so it will be a big game for us.”
Note: On the second night of a back-to-back, the Mavericks head to Orlando for a meeting against the Magic on Saturday. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 6 p.m. CT.
The Mavs return home Monday night against the Philadelphia 76ers. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting Mavs.com.
Dallas Head Coach Rick Carlisle
On whether these are the types of games he likes:
“Yes they are. We’ve remedied some of our problems from last night, took care of the ball better, and I thought we spaced the floor well. Defensively, we didn’t do a great job, to give up 53 percent, but when you find a way to get it done the second night of a back-to-back on the road, you’ll take it and run.”
On the effort from DeJuan Blair:
“(DeJuan) Blair’s been great. He’s doing a lot of good things at both ends. He’s given us toughness, rebounding, screening. He’s given us a physical presence. We had a lot of guys play well. (Gal) Mekel’s minutes were really big tonight. Monta (Ellis) had another good one, Dirk (Nowitzki). I thought (Shawn) Marion’s three out of the left corner was probably the thing that iced the game. That was a huge play. We’ve got to do it collectively. It’s not going to be any one superstar on any night. It’s going to be the guy putting the team of his back. It’s going to be all of us pulling together.”
On Monta Ellis’ performance:
“Monta (Ellis) is getting much more used to playing with our guys where guys are. Tonight, he did a great job of attacking how they were playing the pick and rolls. He was under control. He found two or three guys for wide open 3s at big times. We’re still a work in progress, but we’re making strides. Everyday we’re getting a little bit healthier, so we’ll see where we go with it.”
On the key for causing 19 Magic turnovers:
“We wanted to be aggressive tonight. We were aggressive in our coverage of (Victor) Oladipo because we have a lot of respect for him, and that produced a few turnovers. We’ve got an active team. Monta Ellis makes a lot of things happen. And we’ve got some guys that anticipate well, but we’ve got to do it from a position of being solid, from a foundation of solid defense. We can’t just be running around willy nilly out there, and tonight we didn’t. We played sensibly.”
On improving their record:
“We’ve just got to go day-to-day. I told the guys before the game, tonight we’ve got to play whistle to whistle. We’ve got to try to win the first six minutes, and then win the next three, and then the next three. And we’ve got to stay in the present. None of us are going to get too ahead of ourselves. We’ve done some good things. When you go home to play two or three games in a row, it’s a really important time, so we’ve just got to stay focused.”
On Dirk Nowitzki’s performance:
“He’s hot. He’s been hitting 3s. Guys are finding him, so we’re obviously going to always look for him. He did a good job in the second half of screening, mixing into post-ups. His length around the basket defensively was a real factor. He’s playing a good all-around game. We need 13 guys dressed, ready to play a solid all-around big game of basketball for us to win.”
“It is good (going back home with a victory on last game of road trip). We got that win and now we can build off of it and hopefully during this home stretch we can get a couple of wins.”
“Regardless if you bring new guys or not especially sometimes when you are putting in a new system or you want to try new things out. You have to get people comfortable and get familiar with the flow and the system. For the most part, if you play hard then good things happen for you.”
“We were looking for each other and sharing the wealth out there and it is starting to show. The more we cut down on our turnovers out there and just value each possession out there, then good things are going to happen for us.”
“If we get everybody healthy and right now we are missing a few guys…we just have to take it one game at a time and I don’t ever jump ahead of myself. I just take every challenge as it comes. We just have to keep that focus and keep getting better.”
“Dirk is our guy and we just want to make it easier for him down the stretch. Monte has been great getting into the lane. He can score and find the open guys who can shoot the ball. We need to be patient, move the ball, take care of the ball, and good things will happen for our team.”
“Defensively we got our hands on balls. We got rebounds. We kept guys in front of us and made them take tough shots. We got the rebounds and got into the open court and just moved the ball. Kudos to our defense.”
“We did a good job tonight of protecting the basketball and just making the right play.”
“I wasn’t shooting it too well there for a little while. But I have got my rhythm now again and shooting it with confidence. I am helping the team really spread the floor. Monte is great on drives. He is always kicking the ball back if he doesn’t have anything. When there are nights where the ball isn’t going that well, I still have to be aggressive out there and make things happen.”
“We actually had a decent first half. I thought we should have been up a little more. In the third, we were trading baskets too much. I think we were scoring fine, but then they came down every time and scored. Jameer hit the three, Afflalo got going and went to the foul line every time…Vucevic had a couple of post ups. They are a tough, young, talented team and we couldn’t really get any stops. The zone helped us out and got them scrambling around a little bit. We did a good job of protecting the paint in the zone and that probably helped us win the game along with that three in the corner.”
“We should be more proud of the eight turnovers only. We had 24 last night. We know Monte and Jose can pass the ball so if we can cut down on our turnovers as a team I think it will give ourselves a chance to at least to get a good look at the basket. We have to make the safe play. Sometimes we are trying to squeeze it to Sammy in the lane when it is not really there, that puts us in trouble. That is just not a winning formula and we have enough players out there who can make the easy pass.”
“He (Blair) has been good off the bench. He is rebounding well for his size. He is getting his body in there and offensively he is so good when they trap Monte or Calderon, he is so good in that low pocket and he is making passes, and he has a floater. He is actually a good decision maker with the ball. He is probably as good of a passer out of the five (center) position that I have ever played with. He is just so smart. He finds the shooter on the weak side.”