The Dallas Mavericks were given all they could handle by the Orlando Magic on Wednesday's "Seats for Soldiers" night at American Airlines Center, as they squeaked out a 107-106 win to push their record to 5-2.
Luka Doncic continued to play at an MVP level, putting up 27 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Although his three-point shot wasn't falling, Doncic made it a point to drive to the rim every chance he could get to make up for it. He was rewarded with seven free throw attempts and made six of them.
Orlando's length -- and more specifically, Johnathan Isaac's length -- gave the Mavs fits all game long, as they turned the ball over 17 times. Isaac did a little bit of everything in this game, scoring 13 points to go with ten rebounds and five assists. Isaac was also a menace in jumping passing lanes and denying shots at the rim with his 4 steals and 6 blocks. He made life especially difficult on Kristaps Porzingis, who finished with just 10 points on 4-of-14 shooting from the field.
“We had some other guys that didn’t have their best games, but we hung in well enough to win and dodged a missile at the end,” said head coach Rick Carlisle. “I just have to get (Porzingis) better shots.”
After torching the Mavs with 21 points in the first half, Aaron Gordon was held to just two points in the second half, and committed two crucial offensive fouls at the end of the game that helped Dallas seal the win.
Continuing the theme of this early season, the Mavs' bench did it's job, yet again, making up for the sluggish start to the game. Justin Jackson, Maxi Kleber, Tim Hardaway Jr. and J.J. Barea all scored in double figures to give the Mavs a 49-31 edge in bench scoring.
This was Barea's first regular season game since rupturing his achilles in January of last season. Barea didn't have much rust to knock off, as he provided an instant spark a Mavs team that had been really struggling to score the ball in the first half. He finished with 11 points, three assists, and hit three of his four three-pointers.
“Our first half was not very good,” said Carlisle. “Barea definitely gave us a big spark, got the crowd into it, got our team into it.”
“Pretty amazing for a guy that has his credentials that has been sitting out for six straight games, not playing (and) not complaining,” Carlisle continued. “He did a full workout this morning at the practice facility by himself to keep pushing his conditioning, stepped out there and had an impact just by playing with heart and enthusiasm, and took our first charge of the game. That was a big factor in the game – he was certainly a key part of it. The second half, the entire team played better.”
The Mavs will now await a Friday night matchup with the New York Knicks. It will be the first time the two teams have met since the blockbuster trade happened last season. But as Dennis Smith Jr. told DallasBasketball.com today, he won't be with the Knicks in Dallas, meaning his homecoming will have to wait another year.