The Magic are coming off the type of performance that results in a 30-second Steve Clifford postgame press conference...
"Mistake after mistake after mistake," Steve Clifford.— FOX Sports Magic (@FOXSportsMagic) January 9, 2021
Coach said they've been a good effort team all year but if they play like that they're not going to win. #MagicTogether #NBA pic.twitter.com/5ZkvVyGZVx
The team doesn’t have to wait long to try to put Friday’s disastrous performance behind them. And they will be getting at least one starter back to help them do so.
But another challenging assignment awaits in a week that is going to be full of them.
The Magic conclude their two-game Texas swing with a matchup against the Mavericks on Saturday night (and from there they host the Bucks before heading out on a six-game road trip that begins with two games in Boston, sans Jayson Tatum).
The walking-wounded Magic entered Friday’s game against the Rockets with little chance of succeeding, as they were without Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier, Markelle Fultz, Michael Carter-Williams, Chuma Okeke and Al-Farouq Aminu. Things got even worse than expected, which Clifford attributed to a lack of effort and readiness, as the Magic scored a season-low 90 points, shot just 38 percent from the field, missed 21 of 29 three-point attempts, and lost the game by 42 points.
Gordon, who sat out Friday due to left hamstring injury management, will be back in the lineup in Dallas. Evan Fournier, out with back spasms, is listed as questionable.
The Mavericks, after starting the season 1-3, have won three of their last four games, capped by impressive wins over the Rockets and Nuggets. The team seems to have found its shooting rhythm in their last two wins, hitting over 40 percent from deep in each after an ice cold start to the season.
One night after trying to contain James Harden, the Magic look to slow Luka Doncic, who is averaging 27.6 points, 9.0 rebounds and 8.0 assists this season. Doncic - coming off a 38-point, 13-assist performance against Denver and shooting 53.2 percent over his last two games - averaged 30 points on 47.6% shooting in two games against the Magic last season.
The Mavs, still without Kristaps Porzingis, will also be shorthanded on Saturday night, with three players quarantined due to health and safety protocols: Jalen Brunson, Josh Richardson and Dorian Finney-Smith.
Still, it will be a challenging game for a Magic team that is missing a lot of talent and on short rest.
Hopefully the players who are available compete with the kind of effort that Clifford is looking for and keep this one close.
Who: Orlando Magic (6-3) at Dallas Mavericks (4-4)
When: Saturday at 8:30 p.m.
Where: American Airlines Center - Dallas, Texas
TV: Fox Sports Florida