|2008/2009 NBA Regular Season|
|November 14th, 2008|
|American Airlines Center|
|Jameer Nelson||PG||Jason Kidd|
|Mickael Pietrus||SG||Gerald Green|
|Hedo Turkoglu||SF||Josh Howard|
|Rashard Lewis||PF||Dirk Nowitzki|
|Dwight Howard||C||Erick Dampier|
Tonight's game against the Dallas Mavericks will be a huge test for the Orlando Magic. Don't be fooled by the fact that Dallas has lost 4 straight games to fall to last place in the Southwest Division; it's still very talented, with two sure-fire Hall-of-Famers in its starting lineup and the same group of players that won 51 games last season. It's also a team that's built big leads in some games this year, only to let them slip away. To wit, courtesy of Dallas Basketball:
*Close game with Houston. Rox win with a16-2 fourth-quarter run.
*Close game with Cleveland. Cavs win with a 13-0 fourth-quarter run.
*Close game with the Clippers. Clips with with a 13-0 fourth-quarter run.
You know what's coming, right?
*Close game with the Lakers. Close? That's one way to put it; Dallas was up 77-67 with 1:51 left in the third. What happened then was sadly predictable: LA stormed to a 20-4 run between that 1:51 mark of the third and the 8:14 mark of the fourth to take an 87-81 lead. Ballgame.
Four out of five losses, directly attributable to the Mavs being completely dominated for an extended streak in crunch time.
I'd say it's incredible, but when it happens four out of five times, it becomes pretty credible.
And last night, against the Bulls, Dallas built a 24-5 lead... and still lost the game. Via Mavs Moneyball, SB Nation's Mavericks blog:
Here's something you don't want or expect to hear from the broadcast crew when your team is up 24-5: "Dirk scores and the Dallas lead swells back to three", "Bulls lead at the half", "Bulls by 10", "the Mavs are hanging around", "Dallas desperately needs a good fourth quarter", "Chicago wins"
Indeed, I'm especially curious what will happen if the Magic fall behind early. Will they keep scrapping, as Houston, Cleveland, both L.A. teams, and Chicago did? Or will they fold? The Magic showed a lot of resiliency last season, especially on the road. If they fall behind, I hope they have it in them to stay competitive. But, honestly, I'd rather the Magic jump on the Mavs early and run them out of the building. Obviously, that's easier said than done. The Magic have never won a game at the American Airlines Center and have not won in Dallas, period, since 1997. No, I can't believe it either.
Let's hope Jason Kidd takes it easy on Jameer Nelson, and that Dwight Howard does not take it easy against Erick Dampier. Above all, let's hope Rashard Lewis is able to keep Dirk Nowitzki in check.
Tip's at 8:30. Go Magic.