© Reuters. NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Brooklyn Nets
The Dallas Mavericks aim to end their final road swing before the NBA All-Star hiatus with a win on Monday when they face the collapsing Orlando Magic.
Dallas opened their Eastern Conference trip in three games on February 25, losing 111-97 in Philadelphia, but bounced back on Saturday to end the Brooklyn Nets’ eight-game winning streak in a 115-98 loss.
Kristaps Porzingis scored 18 points and got four rebounds on his return to the line-up after being absent for three games due to the tightness of his lower back. Perhaps more crucial to the Mavericks ‘victory were Porzingis’ three blocked shots.
“Its rim protection and defense were the best there was all year round,” said Dallas coach Rick Carlisle in his post-game press conference. “It just shows the amount of work he’s put in over the last 10 or 11 days.”
Porzingis’ appearance came amid rumors of trade talks involving the 7-foot-3 post player.
“I don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes and I shouldn’t have to worry about that,” Porzingis said of the team media availability on Friday. “It can only distract me at the end of the day.”
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told the Dallas Morning News that rumors of a Porzingis trade prior to March 25th were inaccurate.
Meanwhile, Dallas is looking to build on its recent three wins in its last four games in stuttering and injury-related Orlando.
The Magic won three games in a row and four out of five before hitting their current three-game skid. Orlando dropped a 124-109 decision against Utah on Saturday, playing without Cole Anthony (rib), James Ennis (NYSE 🙂 (calf) and Aaron Gordon (ankle).
The absence of Anthony, Ennis and Gordon exacerbated the already difficult situation the Magic had with Jonathan Isaac due to a knee injury in the bladder in the Orlando area this summer.
Orlando also lost Markelle Fultz to a torn ACL in January.
The wear and tear due to limited rotation may have contributed to Orlando’s fourth-quarter problems for the last two games. The Magic was beaten by 17 points in the closing stages of a February 25 loss in Brooklyn and dropped 37 points in Saturday’s loss to Utah.
“There are games where you are flat and energetic,” said Evan Fournier in his post-game press conference. “But we fight hard. Jazz is a really good team and as I said, we were in the game. (The) beginning of the fourth quarter and the relaxing game really killed us.”
Utah outperformed Orlando, 52-37. The Magic kept Jazz at 10 offensive rebounds, which equates to Orlando’s seasonal pro-game earnings of nine – one of the best averages in the NBA.
Orlando is close to the bottom of the league on the defensive, and the per-game rebounds overall are a by-product of the Magic League’s worst 43 percent field goal shooting.
Of the top five goalscorers in Orlando, none shoot 50 percent off the ground. Nikola Vucevic is at the top of his average of 24.4 points per game with 48.3 percent.
Dallas as a team shoots 46.5 percent from the ground and 54.8 percent from the 3-point arc. Luka Doncic – on average almost a triple-double with team highs of 28.5 points, 9.0 assists and 8.4 rebounds per game – scored 54.3 percent on 2-point field goals and a career best of 35.1 Percent from 3-point range.
– Field level media
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