There was a lot to celebrate—the Orlando Magic’s first victory in Dallas since 1997, and a win they probably had no business pulling off.
The Magic were down by as many as 15 and by 11 early in the fourth quarter. They were outshot, outrebounded and crushed on points in the paint and fast-break points. Basically, they lost every category but the one that mattered most, beating the careening Mavericks 102-100 on Friday night.
“We didn’t do much well,” Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said. “What we did was hang in there and made plays at the end. To get this win says a lot about our team. I’m as proud as I’ve been of them all year. This was outstanding, even though if you look on paper we didn’t play very well.”
Dallas appeared to have protected a slim lead in the last half-minute when Terry rebounded a miss, but he lost the ball out of bounds. Jason Kidd then fouled Rashard Lewis and he made the tying and go-ahead points on a pair of free throws with 10.9 seconds left. The Mavericks blew their next possession when Josh Howard threw an inbounds pass right to Nelson, who then made one of two foul shots with 7.6 seconds left.
With one last chance to tie or win, Dallas went with Terry instead of star Dirk Nowitzki. He got a good shot over Nelson in the lane, but it went in, then out—the kind of bad break that happens to slumping teams. The Mavs have lost five straight and are 0-4 at home.
“Once you’re in a funk, everything seems to go against you,” said Nowitzki, who scored 17 of his 24 points in the first half, but hit a tying jumper and a tough go-ahead basket in the final minutes. “I think once we get a win, the bounces will go our way. … Losing streaks are never fun to go through, but it’s better to go through it in November than January or later.”
Dallas (2-7) is in its longest losing streak since a six-game rut from Feb. 29 to March 9, 2000, a few months after Mark Cuban took over. That also was its last non-playoff season.
The misery is putting new coach Rick Carlisle in the wrong kind of crowd in team history. For instance, they’re off to the worst home start since the 1993-94 club that went 13-69 under Quinn Buckner, and the home loss to Orlando is the first since the 1997-98 team coached by Jim Cleamons that went 20-62.
“We were just about there and it didn’t happen,” Carlisle said. “We were right there.”
Howard, coming off his first career triple-double, had 18 points and 13 rebounds but only two blocks. Two more swats were whistled as goaltending.
“Everyone stepped up offensively and a lot of guys made big defensive plays,” Lewis said.
Dallas had seven more rebounds, five more assists and two more steals than Orlando. The Mavericks made 44 percent of their shots, the Magic only 39. They had a 44-22 advantage on points in the paint and a 24-14 edge in fast-break points.
“We didn’t do anything but get the win,” Nelson said. “That’s all that counts.”
Howard scored 25 points and Kidd had 13 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Kidd also had six turnovers and fouled out on the play that sent Lewis to the line for the winning points.
“We have to stay positive and keep playing,” Howard said.
Terry scored 20 points off the bench, having been dropped to a reserve while Gerald Green moved into the starting lineup as part of Carlisle’s latest attempt to get this team going. Before the game, he answered five questions with variations on the line, “We just got to get a win.”
Both teams were dreadful early on, with Dallas’ 5-of-17 start actually better than Orlando’s 3-of-17. The Magic got on a little roll, taking a 25-23 lead early in the second quarter on an alley oop from Anthony Johnson to Courtney Lee, but the Mavericks soon answered with a 13-0 run that turned into a 10-point lead at the half.
“Somehow we got it done,” Pietrus said. “We didn’t play very well, and we have to get better. But a win is a win.”
Dampier got a technical foul in the third quarter for a shove of Howard. Lewis also got a tech. … Green is the fourth different player to start at shooting guard. He’s started at small forward several times. … Nowitzki was 7-of-10 in the first half after going 5-of-17 each of the last two games.