Mavericks use balance to beat Magic

The SportsXchange

ORLANDO - The Dallas Mavericks may have uncovered a new formula for success in the era of Dirk Nowitzki-lite.

It is a scoring balance they haven't had in years.

The Mavericks unleashed an attack that included seven players with at least 10 points Sunday night, riding it to a 111-105 victory over the Orlando Magic.

It was the fifth consecutive game in which the Mavs had at least six players score in double figures. It also was their fifth victory in the last six games, losing only to Oklahoma City in overtime in that span.

"Our approach now is that this has to be a balanced team. We need everybody," said Mavs coach Rick Carlisle. "It's got to be a tag-team deal."

The Mavs got 20 points from veteran Shawn Marion, but they also had six others score between 11 and 15 points, including veteran reserves Vince Carter and Elton Brand.

Nowitzki, who missed the first 27 games while recovering from knee surgery, had a pedestrian 12 points, just two below his season average. At age 34, his days of dominating games may be over, forcing the Mavericks to look elsewhere to salvage their season.

The Mavericks (18-24) are fighting to avoid their first losing season since 2000 and are no longer able to lean so heavily on their aging superstar. Or at least they have to wait longer until he regains his form. He has played in the last 15 games.

"It's been a tough first 41 games (actually 42)," Carlisle said after the victory. "But now we're in the hunt for the playoffs. That has to be our motivation. Until Dirk gets all the way back, we can't keep it all on any one guy the way we're set up now."

The Magic (14-26) got 24 points from Glen Davis and 20 from Jameer Nelson. Nikola Vucevic had 14 points and a game-high 11 rebounds for Orlando

The Mavs shot 50 percent from the field (45-of-90), committed just eight turnovers and had 22 fast-break points.

"Everybody's contributing now," said Marion. "We're recognizing all the weapons we have. When we move the ball like this, get everyone involved, nobody can guard us."

Carter and O.J. Mayo each finished with 15 points. Brand had 14. Center Chris Kaman had 13 points and eight rebounds. Darren Collison had 11 points.

Collison, with an assist from Carter, hit the key 3-pointer with 31 seconds remaining, silencing a late Magic rally and giving the Mavs a 107-102 lead.

Although Orlando's J.J. Redick answered quickly with another 3-pointer, the Mavs iced the win by making their final four free throw, including two from Nowitzki.

The Mavs never trailed in the second half. They led by as many as 11 points in the third quarter and by 13 in the fourth.

The Magic had an 11-0 run midway through the third period, tying the game at 63, following a technical foul call against Davis.

However, the Mavs bounced right back, taking an 85-75 lead into the final quarter.

The Mavericks also led 57-48 at halftime, riding a good start from Marion, who had 12 points and seven rebounds before intermission. Brand had 12 points in the first half.

The first half was a game of streaks. The Magic jumped ahead 18-4 to start, but the Mavericks responded with a 15-0 run late in the first quarter. Carter started the first Dallas run by hitting a 3-pointer only seconds after entering the game.

The Mavs shot 58 percent from the field in the first half, and blistered the Magic in the second period by scoring 31 points. The Magic got 14 points from Davis in the first two periods.

NOTES: Carlisle said Sunday that anyone waiting for the real Nowitzki to appear might have to wait a little longer. Nowitzki made his season debut Dec. 23 and went into Sunday's game averaging just 14 points, which is 8.9 points fewer than his career average. "He's not all the way there (100 percent) yet. I think coming out of the All-Star break is a realistic time when he'll be where he is going to be (the rest of the season)," Carlisle said. "We are digging out of a hole, so we'll have to continue to dig and grind." ... Carlisle decided to make a change Sunday and deactivated Rodrigue Beaubois and activated Dominique Jones in his place. ... Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said he has not even mentioned the Feb. 21 trade deadline to his young players, many of whom already have been the subject of early trade talks. "I've not said one thing about the trade deadline to any of them," Vaughn said. "It (trade deadline) can be in your face all the time if you want it to be." Vaughn was quick to point out that despite 12 years in the NBA -- with five different teams -- he never was traded. ... Vaughn also downplayed any suggestion that Nowitzki hasn't regained his old form and isn't quite the factor he used to be for Dallas. "He's still the No. 1 thing on the scouting report," Vaughn said. "He's still making players around him better."
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