When the Magic play with the sense of desperation they played with when they were down by 10 points with about four minutes to play, they can be a pretty scary team to play. The effort that is already typically pretty high gets ratched higher with that extra level of focus.
The problem is that the focus is not always there. Or not where it needs to be. And Dallas had the answers for Orlando to get the win.
With the Magic making that comeback, the Mavericks found Darren Collison open for a 3-pointer in the corner after a slow rotation on a pick and roll. The three gave Dallas a five-point lead late in the game and kept Orlando chasing points like the team had virtually all night.
J.J. Redick hit an easy 3-pointer to bring the lead back to two and Orlando nearly ripped the game away on a jump ball, but Dallas answered those too and made its free throws to ice a 111-105 victory at Amway Center on Sunday.
The Magic played most of this game behind the 8-ball, constantly fighting back from a nearly double digit deficit. Once Dallas got itself running, the team was in an offensive rhythm Orlando was unable to break.
The Mavericks erased an early 14-point deficit by the middle of the second quarter thanks to their ability to get out in transition and score easily. Dallas shot 50.0 percent from the floor and recorded 22 fast break points. The Mavericks turned 14 Magic turnovers into 24 points.
Those were difficult numbers to overcome for Orlando, even though Orlando was shooting the ball pretty well — shooting 50.6 percent from the flor itself and making 9 of 21 3-pointers for the game and even getting to the foul line more than Dallas. This was a game that Magic could have taken.
Defense was the problem all night no matter how many times Orlando was able to put the ball in the basket. It seemed every time the Magic made a run, the Mavericks hit a 3-pointer, broke the defense down and got a layup or grabbed an offensive rebounds. Deflating plays like these seemed to happen all the time and it led to Dallas extending its lead out every time Orlando came close to shutting off the deficit.
The defense was extremely disorganized throughout the night. Elton Brand (14 points), Vince Carter (15 points) and Shawn Marion (20 points) took turns drinking from the fountain of youth. They looked like the younger team in racing past Orlando for most of the night.
The Magic did plenty of good offensively to keep themselves in the game. The lead never got out of hand. Glen Davis played well with 24 points, six rebounds and six assists. J.J. Redick added 18 points and Jameer Nelson had 20 points.
Offense was not the problem. The sense was always the Magic could comeback if they could get a stop. They just couldn't get a stop.
Not until they absolutely needed to. And by then it was too late and the margin of error too thin. The Mavericks took advantage and made the plays they needed to secure the win and send the Magic to another loss.