Final: Mavs 114, Magic 99

Box Score | Highlights

Behind the Box Score

With the win, Rick Carlisle (708-548) moved past John MacLeod into sole possession of 17th place on the NBA’s all-time coaching victories list. Gene Shue ranks 16th with 784 wins.

After surrendering 32+ points in the first quarter of each of the last four games, the Mavericks allowed just 19 Magic points in the opening frame tonight. It was the club’s best defensive performance in the first since giving up just 18 points at San Antonio on Dec. 18. Rick Carlisle stressed the importance of getting off to a good defensive start, and he got his wish tonight.


  • This was a game where the contributions of the many, not the few, combined to produce a high score. Five Mavericks scored 15+ points and three more added at least seven points, led by Dirk Nowitzki with his second 20-spot of the season. At this point, Nowitzki is in less of a featured scoring role and more of a supporting role alongside Harrison Barnes and Dennis Smith Jr. For him to score 20 means the ball was moving around quite a bit, which it was. J.J. Barea tied his season-high assists mark with a dozen, and Smith racked up a few hockey assists with his drives eventually leading to Nowitzki Js. But Dirk was also able to exploit a size mismatch against Elfrid Payton early in the third quarter, which resulted in the Magic eventually sending double-teams his way, in turn leading to even more ball movement. The NBA is relentless.

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    In addition, Yogi Ferrell had his highest-scoring game since Dec. 22, and Smith since Dec. 31. This was the kind of night where everyone got involved, and the Mavericks needed that: For much of this game they were shooting in the 30s and low-40s percentage-wise, but by night’s end they’d eclipsed 50 percent. A rising tide lifts all boats. When the ball keeps moving and a couple shots go in, suddenly the basket looks bigger to everyone.

  • Defense is complicated. It’s a team scheme — one team, one unit — but that unit consists of five individuals, and sometimes those individuals are able to make plays outside of the system that still help their team. A few days ago Rick Carlisle admitted teams have been “picking on” Dennis Smith Jr. lately, which he says has contributed to some of those sluggish defensive starts in the New Year. It takes rookies years to learn how to play NBA defense, and the learning curve is especially steep for point guards who played only one season of college ball. But in the meantime, he can make up for that with plain effort, simply playing harder than his opponent. He was able to do that a couple times tonight. First, he pressed up on Elfrid Payton and poked the ball off him and out of bounds, resulting in a Magic turnover.

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    Then, he faced a size disadvantage in the post against Jonathon Simmons but once again (and twice) poked the ball away. Even better, he was able to recover in time to out-jump Magic center Bismack Biyombo in pursuit of the rebound.

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    If Smith consistently gives that amount of effort, he has the chance to become a pretty disruptive effort because he’s also such an athlete. Those are small plays, but winning plays.

  • Josh McRoberts made his Mavs debut tonight, playing briefly in the second quarter. It’s been a long road back to health for the veteran, who’s dealt with a rash of injuries in the past couple seasons, so it was nice to see him get back to action. I would suspect in the coming weeks he might see more time as he builds stamina and works his way up to game speed.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (14-28) will play the Orlando Magic (15-23) on Wednesday at the Spectrum Center at 6 p.m. Central.

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