ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – There’s something about playing on Orlando’s floor lately that seems to bring out the best in the Dallas Mavericks.
Dirk Nowitzki banked in a 15-foot jumper over Hedo Turkoglu with 5.9 seconds as Dallas overcame a 15-point deficit to beat the Magic 100-98 on Friday night. It was the Mavericks’ sixth straight victory in Orlando.
Dallas improved to just 2-19 this season when trailing entering the fourth quarter.
The Mavericks rallied in the final period, aided by a plethora of turnovers and missed shots by the Magic. Jason Terry had 10 points in the quarter and 17 in the game. Delonte West and Shawn Marion each added 15.
“We almost looked down a little bit,” Nowitzki said. “Guys were putting their heads down. But we’re a too good for that. We have to keep competing. I’m proud of the guys. D-West really changed the momentum of the game. And Jet (Terry) getting hot in there. Guys just battling for each other. That’s what we’ve got to do.”
Orlando shot 11 for 32 on 3-pointers, but had 16 turnovers, which led to 20 points for the Mavericks. Eight of those giveaways came in the final 14 minutes of the game and just after the Magic had taken their largest lead.
“Watching Orlando all year long we know that they’re a team that has relinquished a lot of leads … just the way they play,” Terry said. “They’re either going inside or they’re shooting 3’s. You live by the 3 or you die by it.”
Jameer Nelson scored 24 points to lead Orlando. Ryan Anderson added 21, and Dwight Howard finished with 19 points and 15 rebounds.
The Magic had two chances to tie or win the game possession, but Turkoglu missed a jumper from the wing and Anderson’s tip-in trickled off the back of the rim as time expired.
Orlando led by just seven entering the final period before the Mavericks, sparked by a surging Terry, tied it at 89 with 5:58 to play in the game.
The Magic helped Dallas get back into the game committing six of their 16 turnovers in the period.
Things got heated down the stretch as Nowitzki and Anderson went right at each other.
Anderson was called for a blocking foul guarding Nowitzki that drew the ire of Magic fans with 4 minutes left. But he gave Orlando a small cushion on the other end with an offensive rebound and put back to make it 95-91.
Dallas wasn’t done, though.
A 3-pointer by West brought them to 97-96 and after a foul by Anderson, West’s two free throws put the Mavericks on top.
A missed jumper by Nowitzki put the ball in Nelson’s hands, and he was fouled going in for a layup on the other end. He only connected on one of his two ensuing free throws, though, giving the Mavericks their final shot with 25.1 remaining.
Howard seemed to lament the Magic’s shot selection in the closing minutes.
“They did what they were supposed to do in the fourth quarter,” Howard said. “They got a good shot every time. You don’t have to be a championship caliber team to do that. You just have to understand that when you come down in the fourth quarter, you’ve got to get a good shot.”
Brendan Haywood returned to the starting lineup after missing seven games with a right knee sprain and played 26 minutes. He only had five points, buts frustrated Howard throughout that time. Howard also was unable to capitalize on his trips to the free-throw line, going just 7 for 16. The Magic were 17 for 28 as a team.
The Magic were the more active team offensively early in the first half, taking their biggest lead at 32-19 in the opening minutes of the second quarter.
A 12-0 Mavericks run that featured seven points by Nowitzki got it down to a point before the Magic found their footing again and took it back up to double-digits. Orlando would up taking a nine-point edge into the locker room.
Nowitzki led all scorers with 18 in the half. Anderson topped the Magic with 12 points.
Mavericks’ coach Rick Carlisle said the lasting feeling from Friday was the toughness team showed.
“We hung in there,” Carlisle said. “We were down 15 and just chipped away. We showed a lot of fortitude, a lot of grit and lot of togetherness. We had some people step up.”
Was it a championship-caliber performance?
“We’ve got work to do. We have lofty goals, but we’ve got 13 games to go and we’ve got a lot of improvement left,” he said.
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