ORLANDO – The Orlando Magic’s strong start to the season faced a challenging test on Monday as they went up against the Dallas Mavericks, and point guard Cole Anthony believes the team must elevate its game to achieve success. That didn’t happen on Monday, as the Mavs toasted the Magic in the end 117-102.
Entering the matchup with a 4-2 record, the youthful Magic squad was in high spirits. However, their exuberance wasn’t enough to overcome Luka Dončić and the formidable Mavericks’
A recurring theme in each of the Magic’s three losses this season, including the Monday night setback, has been second-half struggles.
After an impressive first half where they led by as much as 15 points and shot an impressive 59.1 percent from the field, the Magic faltered in the second half, committing turnovers, struggling with their three-point shooting, and accumulating excessive fouls.
Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley expressed his disappointment, stating, “We didn’t come out with the same intensity in the third quarter and second half. We allowed shot-making or missing to affect our defense, which is not our identity. Regardless of our offensive performance, our defense needs to remain solid.”
The Magic’s recent losses, both against the Los Angeles Lakers and the Clippers, followed a similar pattern. In the Lakers game, the Magic failed to make crucial shots down the stretch, while a defensive lapse in the third quarter hindered their competitiveness against the Clippers.
Luka Doncic led the Mavericks with a game-high 29 points, including a sealing 3-pointer with 1:52 remaining. Kyrie Irving, despite a sluggish first half, nearly recorded a triple-double with 21 points, seven rebounds, and 10 assists. Tim Hardaway Jr. came off the bench to contribute 21 points.
Paolo Banchero was the Magic’s top scorer with 22 points, but only six of them came after halftime. As a team, the Magic shot a mere 34.1 percent in the final two quarters. Notably, the Magic received significant contributions from their top reserves, Cole Anthony and Moe Wagner, both scoring 19 points.
Anthony, who started for the second consecutive game due to injuries to Wendell Carter Jr. and Markelle Fultz, emphasized the importance of readiness, saying, “I think it’s just a matter of us staying ready and throwing the first punch and building off of that.”
In addition to their injured players, Gary Harris and Jonathan Isaac were also absent from the Magic’s lineup. Turnovers proved to be a significant issue for the Magic, as they committed 21 of them, leading to 21 points for the Mavericks. These turnovers often allowed Dallas to capitalize on fast breaks, accumulating 18 fast-break points.
The game drew a sold-out crowd of 19,409 at the Amway Center, marking the sixth-largest attendance in Magic history.
The Magic will now head to Mexico City to face the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday at 9:30 p.m. ET. This will mark Orlando’s third-ever trip to Mexico City, where they previously played exhibition games in 2012 and regular season contests in December 2018.
The Magic’s 117-102 defeat against the Mavericks exposed their susceptibility to youthful mistakes at critical moments. Point guard Cole Anthony acknowledged the team’s frustration during postgame remarks, noting, “We kind of got frustrated with ourselves, and we let that affect us on both ends of the court. We can’t let that happen. We’ve got to be better.”
The team’s ability to gain experience and limit errors during crucial moments will be instrumental in sustaining their early-season success. The Magic will seek to prove their resilience on Thursday when they face the Atlanta Hawks in the NBA Mexico City Game at the Arena CDMX, with tipoff scheduled for 9:30 p.m. ET.