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Magic rally late, fall to Dirk Nowitzki-led Mavericks, 107-102

The Magic made it interesting late before Dallas wrapped it up.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off a loss to the Houston Rockets, the Orlando Magic made another stop in Texas, meeting up with the Dallas Mavericks for their lone nationally televised game of the season. Despite being down as many as 22, the Magic made it a game late, before ultimately falling 107-102.

The start of the game seemingly couldn't have gone worse for the Magic. They appeared disjointed on the offensive end, with Dallas jumping on them with hot shooting, making their first five shots to grab a 12-0 lead under three minutes into the game. Following a timeout by coach James Borrego, the Magic settled down, knocking down a few shots from beyond the arc to cut the lead down to four. Orlando's defense struggled for seemingly the entire quarter, giving up open shots and easy buckets at the basket, en route to 31 points for the host Mavericks. Monta Ellis led all scorers with seven in the quarter. Maurice Harkless and Nikola Vucevic led the way for the Magic, both scoring six in the quarter.

Early on in the second quarter, the Magic managed to continue to tread water, not allowing the Mavericks to push their lead up too high. As the quarter wore on, however, the Magic began to crack slowly, allowing Dallas' offense to get easy, high quality looks. Despite showing 12 turnovers, the Magic's defense was putrid, with Dallas getting anywhere they wanted on almost every possession. The Magic's offense wasn't much better, turning it over 11 times in the first half, and seemingly forcing things on many possessions. Arguably the only bright spot for the Magic was Harkless, who finished with a team high 10 points in the half, while also getting after it on the defensive end on each possession. Ellis continued to lead all scorers, pushing his total to 17 in the half, while missing just one shot.

Directly out of halftime, the Mavs pushed their lead to a game high 22 after a pair of jumpers from Dirk Nowitzki. The Magic answered, however, going on a 15-3 run of their own to cut the lead down to 12. However, despite some continued strong play from Harkless on both ends, the Magic were unable to get stops consistently. Dallas was able to push the lead back up to 18, before settling for a 16 point advantage heading into the final 12 minutes. The aforementioned Nowitzki heated up in the third, carrying the Mavericks offense pushing his total to 22 for the game. Victor Oladipo, who struggled with his shot much of the night, pushed his total to a team high 15 thanks to some easy buckets.

Down double digits for almost the entire game, things began to turn for the Magic early in the fourth. Thanks to some stops on the defensive end, and a string of buckets on the offensive end. Slowly, but surely, the Magic whittled away at Dallas' lead, cutting it down to five with roughly five minutes to play. A goaltending call on a layup attempt from Oladipo cut the lead down to six, before Nowitzki knocked down a jumper on the other end to promptly push it back up to six, forcing a Magic timeout. After trading buckets, Elfrid Payton hit a big three, to cut the lead down to three. After a stop, the Magic got the ball back with a chance to tie of take the lead with just 1:38 remaining.

Following a stop, Payton was fouled on a drive. Calmly, the rookie knocked down a pair at the free throw line, pulling the Magic within one. After another stop, Payton missed an open jump shot, forcing the team to foul Devin Harris, who made both, putting the Mavs back up three with just 28.8 seconds remaining. Out of the timeout, Oladipo got a driving layup attempt, which was blocked by Tyson Chandler. Vucevic had a tip in chance, but the ball slipped out of his hands, forcing the team to foul Ellis. Ellis split the pair at the line, giving the Magic life still down just four with 21.8 seconds left. A long two pointer from Oladipo once again pulled the Magic within two, giving them a chance to play the foul game even more. Harris split a pair, and Oladipo missed a forced three, ending the Magic's chances of getting the victory.

Four Mavericks finished in double figures, led by Nowitzki's game-high 25. Ellis added 21, with Harris scoring 12 off the bench. Charlie Villanueva rounded out their bunch, finishing with 10.

All five Magic starters finished in double figures, led by Oladipo's 19. Harkless finished with 18, with Payton notching his first career triple-double, finishing with 15 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds. Vucevic added 12, with Channing Frye rounding out the shorthanded group with 11.