Jerome Miron/USA TODAY
Sysiphus might show no pity on the Magic right now. The Greek legend forced to roll a boulder up a hill for all eternity only to see it roll back down to the bottom when he is about reach the top might have it easier than the Magic right now.
It feels like Orlando is doing that feat every single night.
Arron Afflalo and Nikola Vucevic have missed several games now on this West Coast road trip. Orlando seems to dig itself a deep double-digit hole every night with a starting lineup that is missing its big offensive thrust. Those are big hurdles to overcome.
Monday, the Magic dug themselves a hole and fought back to within six. They fell behind again thanks to the Mavericks 3-point shooting and came back again. There would not be another run. The boulder fell to the bottom of the hill yet again.
Dallas shot 50.6 percent from the floor and 13 for 27 from beyond the arc. That offense gave Dallas enough distance and enough momentum to keep Orlando reeling with a 107-88 victory at American Airlines Center on Monday.
Those shooting numbers were as bad for the Magic as advertised. Dallas consistently broke down Orlando’s first wave of defense and forced Orlando into scrambled rotations. The Magic just are not able to do that at a consistent level. Not when a team is shooting that well — or has Dirk Nowitzki.
When the Magic got their stops and got out on the break, their offense was extremely effective. Dallas was not pitching a shutout and Orlando had a chance to make a comeback.
In the second quarter, the Mavericks took as much as a 22-point lead. Then Glen Davis scored 10 of his 19 points in the third quarter and helped the Magic cut the lead to six points. It seemed like Orlando could make a game of it.
That kind of fight was extremely admirable and a sign that the Magic continue to be head on the right path despite all the losses. But eventually the shortcomings of the roster caught up. Davis took ill-advised shots thinking he still had the hot hand and the shots went no good. Orlando shot 44.7 percent as a team with key players like Victor Oladipo (4 for 11) and E’Twaun Moore (2 for 7) missing far too many shots.
Jameer Nelson had a strong game too with 16 of his 21 points in the first half to keep the Magic afloat. But he too succumbed to questionable shot-taking in trying to force the Magic back into the game.
The boulder kept rolling down the hill, the weight of the task being too much for this Orlando team to overcome. This is a roster that is not quite ready to grind out these games.
The Magic played with effort and energy. Far more than perhaps could have been expected in this final game of a West Coast trip — the Central Time Zone stopover had schedule loss written all over it. They kept fighting back. Guys played well in stretches and showed the potential that continues to give Magic fans hope.
Maurice Harkless scored 13 points, showing confidence attacking the basket with the 40 minutes of playing time he received despite some early misses. Tobias Harris scored 10 points on 4-for-9 shooting. Victor Oladipo had 11 points on 4-for-11 shooting. All three did their part to complement Nelson and Davis’ big efforts.
It just was not consistent or efficient enough offensively. And the defensive end, again, was a mess.
Vince Carter scored 17 points on 10 shots. Monta Ellis had 18 and Dirk Nowitzki had 15 (most in the first half). Jae Crowder provided big play off the bench with 14 points on 6-for-8 shooting.
Dallas had the balance and consistency and the final run and say in this game.
Orlando might have had some positives to glean after a tough road trip. That still is not translating into wins. The struggle continues.