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Dallas Mavericks 107, Orlando Magic 98

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Hedo Turkoglu drives for a layup
The Magic's Hedo Turkoglu drives to the basket against the Mavericks. Despite his first career triple-double, Orlando fell to Dallas Monday night, 107-98.
Photo by Fernando Medina, NBAE/Getty Images

The Magic tested their legitimacy as title-contenders last night against Dallas, an elite team that figures to make a deep playoff run. They failed that test, spotting the Mavericks a 13-point first quarter lead en route to a 107-98 defeat. The Magic never lead in the game and didn't seriously challenge until the second half. After the Magic made a remarkable comeback -- John Denton aptly described it as "gamely" -- the Mavericks scored 10 straight points to end the rally. Here's the GameFlow, and here's the boxscore.

I'm not too disappointed with the loss, however. Yes, falling behind in the first quarter is troubling, but the fact that it battled back instead of giving up, as last year's team would have done, is at least encouraging. On any other night, we might have been able to take the lead. Hedo Turkoglu, with 13 points, 12 rebounds, and a career-high 13 assists, recorded the first triple-double of his career, and his all-around contributions were great. However, he shot just 4-of-14 from the field. 5 of his 9 misses were driving layups, and none of them were blocked. Indeed, the eight turnovers by the team belies how many unforced errors it made.

My game-ball goes not to Turkoglu; nor to Dwight Howard, who lead the Magic with 28 points; nor to Rashard Lewis, who played surprisingly good defense on Dirk Nowitzki, holding last year's MVP to 20 points on 8-of-22 shooting. No, it goes to Maurice Evans, who scored 9 points on 4-of-4 shooting in the third quarter to make the game interesting. I admire his hustle and will to win, and sincerely hope Otis Smith re-signs him over the summer.

When the NBA released the Magic's schedule in August, I examined it and noted last night's game would be one to look forward to: "The Mavericks come to town to face us as part of a five-game homestand against teams that made the playoffs last year. The season could hang in the balance." It seems like a hyperbolic statement now, but back then I had no idea we'd be 13 games over .500 when the homestand started. But we can hardly afford to lose more than one of our next four games, as we need to use this long homestand to extend our division lead over Washington.

Other notes:

  • Jameer Nelson was healthy and active for the game, but received his second consecutive DNP-CD.
  • Pat Garrity was also active, despite the fact that James Augustine has recovered from the flu which kept him at home on the team's road trip to Philadelphia and Indiana last week. Perhaps there's truth to the rumor that Garrity is being showcased...
  • Jason Terry killed us with 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting in the 4th quarter. He had 20 points overall. Yeah, Josh Howard was great and tied with Dwight Howard for game-high scoring, but Terry was the real difference-maker down the stretch
  • Dwight's total of 7 rebounds was just one higher than his season-low. I'd prefer to see him focus less on his scoring and more on his defense.
  • Add Brandon Bass to the list of players the Magic could definitely use right now. The 6'8", 240-pound wrecking ball of a power forward tallied 16 points and 6 rebounds.