The cold-shooting Orlando Magic could not string together enough quality offensive possessions down the stretch against the Dallas Mavericks, and allowed a 19-0 run bridging the third and fourth quarters, ultimately losing by a 95-85 final. Orlando shot 23-of-67 after the first period, simply missing the looks it usually makes. Meanwhile, the Magic rendered Dirk Nowitzki (23 points on 10-of-24 from the floor) and Caron Butler (16 on 7-of-18), the Mavericks' top two scorers, ineffective, but Jason Terry and Brendan Haywood provided just enough offense themselves to offset the stars' inefficiency. Dwight Howard led everyone with 29 points, 16 boards, and 5 blocked shots in a losing effort.
|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.
The raw numbers look ugly, yet Magic coach Stan Van Gundy didn't seem too concerned with the game's result. In his post-game media session, he went out of his way to say this effort isn't one for which he'll rip his team, and even said the overall effort and focus tonight trumped that of their previous game, a blowout win over Detroit. However, he did say he will consider addressing the team to "rein in" its tendency to take quick shots in transition situations with only "one guy ahead of the ball." He did not name names, but I suspect Mickael Pietrus might be included in that conversation. After coming up with a steal, he took the ball up himself and launched a pull-up trey with 18 seconds on the shot clock.
In a lot of ways, tonight was just one of those games. Howard scored 29, Vince Carter and Jameer Nelson added 16 apiece, and Rashard Lewis poured in 12 on 10 shots. The secondary players, who have provided the Magic with a tremendous boost throughout the season, just failed to produce. Outside of the four All-Stars, the Magic shot 6-of-28 for 12 points.
So you've got an unusual, jarring lack of production from your role players, and a puzzling lack of free-throw attempts despite continued, consistent, aggressive drives to the hoop. Orlando managed a season-low 12 free-throw attempts while scoring 52 points in the paint, which Van Gundy noted, before offering, "I don't know what to tell you on that."
Take nothing away from Dallas, which executed its offense late in the game and earned this win. However, there's a good reason why Van Gundy and his players didn't seem too perturbed by the loss. Sure, Van Gundy said he was "frustrated," and by no means were the players overjoyed with the outcome. But Nelson said it best: "we played hard enough to win the game, but didn't shoot the ball well enough to win the game."