Rob Foldy/USA TODAY
The Magic's second-half rally fell short as they trailed the Mavericks the entire night. Eventually Orlando ran out of time. Turnovers, poor shooting and poor defense against an efficient offense doomed the Magic in a 108-100 loss at Amway Center on Saturday.
The big news coming out of the game however was the noticeable absence of Jameer Nelson from the fourth quarter. Nelson played in 22:55 of the game, scoring 15 points and having one of his better shooting performances going 6 for 11. Victor Oladipo played the entire fourth quarter and struggled with four turnovers and 1-for-4 shooting.
It was a decision that dominated the postgame press conference and chatter.
Arron Afflalo continued his torrid pace in scoring 25 points and getting to the foul line for 14 free throw attempts. Nikola Vucevic added 16 points and eight rebounds.
Dallas got 19 points from Monta Ellis (on 19 shots) and 18 each from DeJuan Blair and Dirk Nowitzki.
Turnovers continue to be an issue
Jacque Vaughn has long said that the Magic's defense is pretty good when the team is able to get set. It is when the offense creates turnovers and gives up fast break points. The Mavericks usually play at a pretty hectic pace (not so much tonight) but they carved up the Magic offensively.
So Orlando having 19 turnovers leading to 22 points does not help matters very much. Also not helping matters was Jacque Vaughn's chosen point guard for Saturday's fourth quarter was rookie Victor Oladipo and he committed four of his nine turnovers in the final 12 minutes.
That does not sound like a recipe for fixing this problem.
Dallas recorded 21 fast break points in the game and shot 51.2 percent for the game. The Mavericks did not do much to stop the Magic — they shot 52.9 percent from the floor and 22 of 28 from the foul line — so every possession seemed to matter.
Orlando did not value possessions as much and paid the price in this one. The turnover disparity was a key to the game. And the continuation of a common theme.
Free throws are rolling in
Last year, Orlando nearly set a league record for fewest free throw attempts. It is safe to say that will not be a problem this year.
Orlando got to the line 28 times, including 14 from Arron Afflalo alone. The Magic are doing a significantly better job this year. The 28 free throw attempts tonight were not irregular for the Magic. They are routinely topping 20 free throw attempts now. There were plenty of times last year when the Magic would struggle to top 10.
Getting to the foul line shows both that a team is attacking the basket and being smart with the ball. Orlando is doing that much better. The free throws take tremendous pressure off the Magic.
However, they do not correct turnover issues or cover up defensive inefficiencies. Orlando seems to be finding its way on those fronts still.
Solomon Jones returns
Who had Solomon Jones returning to his first game since the second game of the year against Minnesota before Tobias Harris or Glen Davis?
Jones tore his meniscus during the second game of the season and appeared set to miss at least four weeks. He said he wanted to avoid surgery and try to rehab it without and it seemed like he was progressing quickly. Just not this quickly.
Jones made an eight-minute cameo, scoring two points and grabbing two rebounds.
Jacque Vaughn is usually pretty coy about telling the media when guys will come back. Harris and Davis still appear to be a little ways away as they get their conditioning back. Jones seemed to just walk right back onto the court.