Final: Mavs 112, Magic 80
Box Score | Highlights
Behind the Box Score
The Mavs’ 26-point lead at halftime was their second-largest at the break of the season, topped only by the 34-point advantage they built en route to beating the Lakers by 49 in January. They outscored the Magic by 20 points in the second quarter, also their second-biggest advantage in any quarter all season, behind only the 27-point difference in the second in that same Lakers game. Good stuff from Dallas in the first act tonight.
Wesley Matthews hit six 3-pointers tonight, his fourth game with at least as many this season. That’s tied for seventh-most by any player in the NBA. Eric Gordon of Houston leads with nine such games. (More on Matthews later.)
Dirk Nowitzki scored 14 points in an abbreviated night’s work, playing just 18 minutes. He now needs just 135 points to reach 30,000 for his career. Correctly pick the game and quarter that he does it and you could win some Dirk memorabilia.
The Magic hit just three 3-pointers in this game, tying a season-low by any Mavs opponent.
After a physically and potentially emotionally draining overtime win against the Jazz on Thursday, which followed up an equally draining loss on Tuesday, the Mavericks came out strong in this game, building a huge lead early on and never really looking back. Dallas took it to Orlando from the opening tip, out-hustling, out-working, and out-playing the visitors in almost every facet of the game. The Mavericks are on some kind of roll right now, winners of six of their last seven home games and seven of their last 10 games overall. With a tough Boston Celtics team coming in town on Monday night, it was big for Dallas to continue its run in this one without having to play right down to the wire the same way the club had in its previous few games. The Mavs have put themselves in position to close out the stretch before the All-Star Game strong.
With the big scoring nights of late by Harrison Barnes, Dirk Nowitzki, and Yogi Ferrell, it’s been easy to somewhat lose sight of what Wesley Matthews has been doing on the offensive side of things. In addition to the six 3s he hit in this game, he also handed out six assists, his fourth consecutive game with at least five dimes, the longest streak of his career. His previous best was two. Matthews has become a much more dynamic player off the bounce in the last few weeks, and now that he’s beginning to drive the ball more, that’s given him more opportunities to pass the ball once the defense rotates. He’s had great success finding shooters and cutting big men, and the Mavs have done a good job of knocking down those shots. Rick Carlisle talks a lot about the important of his guards and wings rebounding the ball, but if they can also rack up assists, too, that’s even better.
Salah Mejri had an unbelievable game earlier this month against Philadelphia, and tonight he had a pretty close replica of that performance. He had 10 rebounds and two blocks in the first half alone, and ended the game with four points and 15 rebounds. Mejri is known as a guy who plays with extreme amounts of energy and activity, and tonight he simply out-worked the Magic’s big men at both ends of the floor. Mejri has been a very productive player lately, and that’s meant a great deal to the Mavericks, particularly during Andrew Bogut’s absence.
Deron Williams made his return to action after missing eight games due to injury. He started the first half for the Mavs and played about 16 minutes before exiting after reaching his minutes limit. Williams scored seven points and dished out four assists, also recording three steals. With the veteran point guard back in the starting lineup, Yogi Ferrell came off the bench, and the rookie didn’t disappoint. He helped to fuel a Mavs run in the opening quarter and ended the game with 10 points and seven assists. Considering how well Ferrell has played as a starter, it’s easy to see him becoming an excellent backup point guard, as well, when he’s playing a majority of his minutes against fellow backups. That’s a situation to keep an eye on between here and next week’s All-Star break.
The Mavs (22-32) play the Boston Celtics (34-19) on Monday at American Airlines Center at 7:30 p.m. Central.