AP Photo/John Raoux
Despite starting off hot and jumping out to an 18-4 lead over the Mavericks, the Magic lost this game in the first quarter. Orlando owned the first half of the opening period and it was looking as though they were headed for a morale-boosting blowout of a reasonably superior team. Glen Davis was getting in the paint and the long twos he was taking, while still not ideal, were at least falling.
But about halfway through the first quarter, after Rick Carlisle’s second desperation timeout, Orlando completely fell apart. They coughed up the ball four times in the final half of the quarter, their shots stopped falling, they were unable to stop anything Dallas tried to create on offense, and ultimately blew a 14-point lead in six minutes and ended the quarter trailing 26-24.
From there, the Magic were playing catch-up the rest of the way. They mostly hung around for the final three quarters, occasionally slipping into a double-digit deficit and occasionally cutting Dallas’ lead to a single possession. But after the blown early lead, the Mavericks controlled the game from there on out.
Dallas’ attack was led by their veterans — Shawn Marion, Vince Carter, and Elton Brand. Marion and Brand in particular were monstrously effective on both ends of the floor, as the Mavs overcame a relatively nondescript performance from Dirk Nowitzki to shut down the Magic.
The Magic got solid performances from J.J. Redick, Nikola Vucevic, and Big Baby, and Jameer Nelson and Arron Afflalo hit key shots as the Magic attempted to cut Dallas’ lead. But outside of Redick, they didn’t get much out of their bench, while Dallas’ entire starting lineup scored in double digits in addition to the contributions from Carter and Brand.
I didn’t even notice it while watching the game, but reflecting on it afterwards, Andrew Nicholson’s DNP-CD is a little puzzling given the circumstances. Big Baby and Vucevic played well, so there weren’t a lot of extra frontcourt minutes to go around. But in a game where the Magic needed scoring off the bench, it doesn’t make a lot of sense that Josh McRoberts played 16 minutes and Nicholson stayed in his warm-up suit.
But honestly, the specifics of the final three quarters don’t matter much. The Magic led by 14 halfway through the first quarter and were outscored by four through the last three.
The game was lost with Dallas’ first-quarter run when Orlando got turnover-happy and stopped making shots. If they had made just a few more shots during that stretch and turned the ball over just one fewer time during that quarter, they probably would have pulled away with the win.
MVP (Most Valuable Player)
Glen Davis. Big Baby was the Magic’s most consistent scorer, putting up 24 points on a surprisingly efficient (for him) 10-for-16 shooting from the floor.
Turnovers. The Magic coughed up 14 turnovers that led to 24 Mavericks points and were only able to force 8 from Dallas.
The Mavs’ first-quarter run erased the Magic’s double-digit lead early in the period and permanently shifted the momentum of the game in their favor.