National Basketball Association
Mavericks-Magic Preview
National Basketball Association

Mavericks-Magic Preview

Updated Mar. 5, 2020 1:23 a.m. ET

The Orlando Magic pulled the trigger on a deal aimed at lifting them out of their dive and back into the playoff picture.

Stuck in their own rut, the Dallas Mavericks decided to stand pat at the trade deadline.

The Magic hope the additions of Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova yield quick results Friday night as they try to beat the Mavericks at home for the first time in almost a decade.

Orlando held the Eastern Conference's fifth seed Dec. 31 but limped into the All-Star break at No. 11 following a 4-16 slump - better than only Phoenix (2-17) since the calendar turned to 2016.


However, the Magic (23-29) entered the break with two wins over Atlanta and a 98-96 loss to San Antonio before trading forward Tobias Harris to Detroit for Jennings and Ilyasova on Tuesday.

Harris is averaging 13.7 points in the first year of a $64 million, four-year contract that made him Orlando's highest-paid player. His scoring average is down from 17.1 in 2014-15 and his 3-point percentage has dipped from 36.4 to 31.1.

Jennings and Ilyasova each played under Magic coach Scott Skiles in Milwaukee from 2009-13, compiling some of their career-best numbers. Ilyasova is averaging 11.3 points this season and Jennings 6.8 since his December return from an Achilles tendon injury that kept him out 11 months.

"(Tuesday) was a strange day for me because one guy that I really, really like is gone and two guys that I really, really like are coming in," Skiles told Orlando's official website. "That doesn't happen often that I have relationships with all of them already."

General manager Rob Hennigan insisted the deal was made with the intention of making the postseason, not to dump salary after his team's dismal stretch - which included three overtime losses and a 2-7 home record. The Magic also traded forward Channing Frye to Cleveland on Thursday for guard Jared Cunningham and a second-round draft pick.

Orlando has a tough schedule down the stretch with 20 of its 30 remaining games against teams at .500 or better. Skiles said he thinks the Magic need at least 18 wins but more likely 20 to sneak into the playoffs.

While Orlando felt it needed a change, Dallas (29-26) didn't make a deal after entering the break in the West's No. 6 spot.

"We like this group, and we want to give them a chance to grow together," general manager Donnie Nelson said. "With three-fifths of our starting lineup being new, and eight new faces, it's really not time to make changes."

Not many gave the Mavericks a chance this season after free agent DeAndre Jordan backed out of his verbal commitment over the summer. But Zaza Pachulia has been a nice consolation prize, averaging 10.0 points and 10.7 rebounds, and Wesley Matthews and Chandler Parsons returned earlier than expected from injuries.

Dallas, though, will try to end its funk of four losses in five games by continuing its dominance in this series. The Mavericks have beaten the Magic seven straight times and taken the last nine in Orlando.

Magic point guard Elfrid Payton had a triple-double in the last meeting with 15 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds, though Dirk Nowitzki's 25 points lifted the Mavs to a 107-102 win in Dallas on March 18.


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