It did not take long for those watching the game betteen the Magic and Mavericks to realize that this was not going to be pretty basketball. The Mavericks were missing Dennis Smith Jr., Dirk Nowitzki, Harrison Barnes and Dwight Powell; not to mention Wesley Matthews and Seth Curry who had previously been ruled out for the season. The home team, Orlando, was without Jonathan Isaac, Jonathan Simmons, Nikola Vucevic, Evan Fournier and Terrence Ross. The only regular starter on the floor when the first quarter started was Aaron Gordon, the Orlando Magic power forward. I will go ahead and call it what it was… a tank-off.
Dallas was getting torched early by Orlando’s frontcourt. Aaron Gordon, who the Mavericks are expected to pursue this summer, led the way for the Magic with 16 points after playing the entire first quarter. Gordon is just a 33% three-point shooter for the season, but he shot 2-4 from behind the arc in the first 12 minutes. One of Dallas’ two-way players, Jalen Jones, came off the bench early and made himself seen. The Texas A&M product led the Mavericks in scoring in the first with 11 points on 2-3 shooting from deep. The last game Jones saw serious playing time was in March when he scored 16 points and pulled down seven boards in 29 minutes against the Brooklyn Nets. Despite Jones’ effort, the Mavs ended the first trailing by double digits: 33-22.
The second quarter featured less Jalen Jones and Aaron Gordon, but other Mavericks stepped their game up. Although his role has recently been diminished, Maxi Kleber showed flashes of his early self in the second quarter. The German rookie came off the bench and scored nine points and pulled down three boards in just seven minutes of action. Dallas’ other active big man, Johnathan Motley, showed flashes of why the Mavs signed him to a two-way deal with back-to-back dunks in the second quarter. He finished the first half with seven points and four rebounds. The Magic still managed to keep Dallas at arm’s length behind rookie guard Jamel Artis in the second. Artis scored ten quick points giving Orlando the edge at half: 56-51.
Coming out of halftime, it was announced that JJ Barea, who started the game in place of Dennis Smith Jr., would not return with a left oblique strain. It was announced shortly after the end of the game that he would be shut down for the rest of the season. The third quarter was the ugliest one yet. The lone bright spot was when Johnathan Motley hit the 14-point tally, marking a new career high for the Maverick rookie out of Baylor. Dallas outscored Orlando 23-21 in the third, but were still on the wrong side as they went into the final quarter down 77-74.
The Magic came out of the gates hot. It seemed as though every Magic player had the green light and jump shots were falling left and right. Orlando went on a 13-6 run to give them a nine-point cushion with about eight minutes to play. Dallas would go on short spurts behind Aaron Harrison’s hot three-point shooting, but they never could get over the hump. After Orlando sank a multitude of clutch free throws, the nail was in the coffin. Dallas fell: 105-100.
Dallas was led in scoring by Jalen Jones who finished with 15 points. Johnathan Motley ended the game with a career high in both points (14) and rebounds (8). Despite being signed to a multiyear deal earlier in the season, Kyle Collinsworth has failed to put up big number; but he did just that tonight. Collinsworth finished with 14 points, nine rebounds and six assists.
While Dallas may have lost the game, they did gain some leverage in the lottery standings. The Mavericks jumped the Magic to gain sole possession of the fourth best odds of landing the number one overall pick. The four slot gives Dallas an 11.9% chance of securing the number one pick, and a 37.8% chance of ending up in the top three.
The next Maverick game is on Friday against the Detroit Pistons.
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