Orlando Magic Grades: Dallas Mavericks 122, Orlando Magic 106

Aaron Gordon and the Orlando Magic struggled against the Dallas Mavericks.(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Aaron Gordon and the Orlando Magic struggled against the Dallas Mavericks.(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

The Orlando Magic struggled to corral Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks falling again with a disappointing defensive and shooting effort.

38. Final. 122. 79. 106

The Orlando Magic woke up from their post-All-Star Break slumber and picked up the pace defensively. Suddenly they were in passing lanes and getting out in transition. The ball that got stuck and relied too much on pick and pops or post-ups to try to generate some spae was flowing.

Evan Fournier was draining threes and attacking the paint. Everything that seemed broken suddenly seemed to work and the Magic had erased an 18-point deficit.

Their defense was disciplined, staying down on Luka Doncic’s shot fakes and cutting him off to give the big man enough time to scramble back and defend the 3-point line. It all seemed to work so well.

The Magic broke their lineup, feeling comfortable that they had themselves a game for the fourth quarter. But the defense would not hold. Again, a 3-point shooting big man was going to make them pay for inattentiveness on defense. It just was not the one they thought it would be.

Maxi Kleber scored five points to end the third quarter and then 12 points at the start of the fourth quarter to charge a 16-9 run to open the quarter and give the Dallas Mavericks all the cushion they would need. Kleber would score a career-high 26 points on 10-for-13 shooting.

Orlando consistently lost big men like Maxi Kleber and Kristaps Porzingis and that opened the door wide open for the Mavericks to win easily 122-106 at the Amway Center on Friday.

The whole game was an uphill climb because of that poor defense. The Magic let Doncic get going early as he blew by defenders and easily swung the ball to Porzingis for open threes. The Magic tried blitzing him to little effect and tried switching on him to worse effect.

The team was just out of sync defensively. And that was made even worse by the team’s offensive struggles.

Orlando missed nine of its first 10 3-point attempts. Many of them were open looks that would not go down. Certainly, the team wants them taking open shots. Nobody will complain about those.

But when so many of them are not going in, it sucks so much life out of the team. It is hard to figure out how to get open looks and get them in rhythm. The Magic took a season-high 43 3-point field goal attempts. It seemed like the Magic relied on that shot far too much, especially early.

And those misses deflated the team. The poor defense throughout the game was what finally popped the air out of the balloon.

NIKOLA VUCEVIC. C-. Everything for this Orlando Magic team starts and ends with <a href=. C. Orlando Magic

B-. <a href=. G/F. Orlando Magic. EVAN FOURNIER

C+. No one could say <a href=. F. Orlando Magic. AARON GORDON

It is becoming more and more clear how much <a href=. PG. Orlando Magic. MARKELLE FULTZ. B+

A-. Coming out of the All-Star Break, the Dallas Mavericks knew they could score. They still have the best offense in the league and they quickly honed in on what they needed to pick apart in the Orlando Magic’s defense. They are just struggling to defend pick and rolls and so Luka Doncic went to work.<p>Doncic scored 16 of his 33 in the first quarter, throwing in a few step-back 3-pointers for good measure that no defense can stop. But it was his work in the pick and roll, feeding Kristaps Porzingis on pops that really tore apart the Magic’s defense.</p><p>That is the same pet play the Mavericks went to over and over again in the fourth quarter to help Maxi Kleber get a career-high 26 points. The Magic just never adjusted fully and never played the way they are capable against pick and rolls. Eventually Orlando was blitzing and trapping uncharacteristically to try to get a different look. Dallas tore them apart.</p>. 34-22. 7th West. DALLAS MAVERICKS

The Orlando Magic are now 24-32 and eighth in the Eastern Conference, three games ahead of the Washington Wizards and two games behind the Brooklyn Nets.

Next. Nothing is the same as last year for the Orlando Magic. dark

The Magic are back in action Monday on the road against the Nets.