Mandatory Credit: Douglas Jones-US PRESSWIRE
Dirk Nowitzki banked in a jumper over Hedo Turkoglu with 5.9 seconds remaining on Friday, capping an impressive Dallas Mavericks rally to give the defending NBA champions a 100-98 victory against the Orlando Magic. Turkoglu's open three-pointer on Orlando's ensuing possession fell well off the mark, and Ryan Anderson's tip-in attempt just before the horn rimmed out. Orlando held a 15-point lead in the third quarter, but failed to put Dallas away despite numerous chances, and the Mavericks punished it as a result. Jason Terry sparked the Mavs' comeback effort by scoring 10 of his 17 points in the final frame, while fellow backcourt reserve Delonte West scored seven of his 15.
As usual in Orlando losses, turnovers proved to be the story: the Magic committed 12 in the second half, leading to 14 Mavs points. And curiously, Orlando failed to involve superstar center Dwight Howard in the fourth period. Howard, a six-time All-Star, got just two field-goal attempts and one free throw in the final 12 minutes, scoring two points. Meanwhile, Turkoglu and Jameer Nelson combined for 10 shot attempts and four turnovers.
|Team||Pace||Efficiency||eFG%||FT Rate||OReb%||TO Rate|
|Green denotes a stat better than the team's season average;|
red denotes a stat worse than the team's season average.
These losses long ago stopped becoming instructive for Orlando; the team learned nothing new tonight, I don't think. The Magic can't turn the ball over the way they have and expect to prevail against the league's better teams, nor can they ignore Howard and expect to find success either. "We keep doing it and doing it and doing it and doing it," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said of his team's turnovers, "and it's an area we're just not getting better in. We're just not."
No, they're not. Orlando's lost four of its last seven games, averaging 18.4 turnovers in the losses during that span.
Nelson played brilliantly overall, scoring a team-best 24 points on 10-of-17 shooting, but the Magic fell apart without him on the floor. Though reserve Chris Duhon shot 2-of-4 for six points in his 16 minutes, Dallas outscored Orlando by 15 points when he took the floor for Nelson.
Unless the Magic fan find ways to take better care of the ball, it will continue to struggle putting their opponents away, and continue to be vulnerable to disheartening losses such as Friday's.