The sprint to the finish officially begins for the Mavericks. The Dallas Mavericks (23-29) host the Orlando Magic (15-38). The Magic will be coming into town on the second night of a back-to-back as they hosted the Charlotte Bobcats and suffered a 105-92 loss. With the loss, Orlando comes into Dallas with the worst record in NBA since Dec. 20 (3-25). The Mavericks will be looking to continue the better stretch of basketball they played going into the All-Star break, winning 10 of their last 16 and three of their last four games.
Dallas will still be without the services of Chris Kaman, but it does appear that he is closer to making to the court. With the trade deadline looming, this could be the last time fans get to see certain Mavericks in a home uniform. Just something to keep in mind.
Here are the notes for the game between the Mavericks and the Magic.
The road team has won each of the last nine meetings between the Mavericks and the Magic. Dallas has taken nine of the last 12 overall meetings. The Mavericks recorded a 111-105 victory in the first showdown between the two teams this season at Orlando on Jan. 20. Shawn Marion led Dallas with a team-high 20 points to go along with a team-high 10 rebounds, four assists and three steals in 33 minutes. Dallas had a season-high-tying seven players in double figures (including all five starters) in the win over Orlando: Marion (20), Dirk Nowitzki (12), Chris Kaman (13), O.J. Mayo (15), Darren Collison (11), Vince Carter (15) and Elton Brand (14).
The Mavericks and the Magic met just once in 2011-12 (at Orlando on Mar. 30, 2012 and Dirk Nowitzki hit a game-winning 15-foot fadeaway with 5.9 seconds left to give Dallas a 100-98 victory. The Mavericks have dropped the last three matchups with the Magic in Dallas (after they won 10 straight at home against the Magic from Mar. 11, 1999 through Dec. 17, 2007).
It’s a Small World:
Magic forward Al Harrington is the cousin of Mavericks guard Dahntay Jones. Vince Carter grew up in Daytona Beach, Fla., and played in 97 games with the Magic from 2009-11, averaging 16.3 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 30.7 minutes. Carter was a teammate of Magic head coach Jacque Vaughn on the New Jersey Nets from 2004-06. Darren Collison was a college teammate of Magic guard Arron Afflalo at UCLA for two seasons from 2005-07.
Mavericks guard Dominique Jones grew up in Lake Wales, Fla., and played his college ball at the University of South Florida. Magic big man Gustavo Ayón played his rookie season (2011-12) with Mavericks center Chris Kaman in New Orleans. Mavericks assistant coach Darrell Armstrong was signed as a free agent by the Magic in 1994-95 and played nine seasons for Orlando from 1994-2003. Armstrong won the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award and the Sixth Man of the Year Award with the Magic in 1998-99, becoming the first player in NBA history to win both awards simultaneously.
1. Play with an edge, use the home cooking. Orlando has been a terrible team on the road. Dallas has to ensure that Orlando doesn’t get out of the road funk they’re currently in. Orlando is currently on an eight-game road losing streak that is its longest since dropping 16 straight from Jan. 27 through Mar. 31, 2006. They have lost by an average of 16.2 points during its current road skid.
2. Keep the offensive momentum rolling. It might be hard to carry over the offensive output prior to the All-Star break but the Mavericks need to find a way to make it happen. The Mavericks are averaging 107.9 points per game on 46.7 percent shooting over their last 16 games (10-6 record). Dallas has scored 100-plus points in 14 of its last 16 games. It’s also a proven fact, the Mavericks are 23-0 this season when outscoring their opponent. When the Orlando Magic score 90 points or more this season, they have a record of 15-21. When they fail to reach the 90-point mark, they are 0-17.
3. Handle their business. This is a game the Mavericks have to have. Of the teams ranked 7th through 11th in the West, Dallas has the third toughest remaining strength of schedule of the bunch. If Dallas loses this game to Orlando, somebody call 911.
Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He is a contributing writer for Mavs.com. Bryan also attended Ball So Hard University. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.