Magic Musings: Loss to Mavericks caps off sour January for Orlando
ORLANDO, Fla. -- With all due respect to T.S. Eliot, January has been the cruelest month for the Orlando Magic.
The Magic wrapped up a month in which they went 2-13 by losing their eighth game in a row Saturday night as the Dallas Mavericks built a big early lead on their way to a 108-93 victory. Playing without Victor Oladipo, who was not in uniform because of a sore right Achilles, the Magic trailed by 25 points at halftime as the Mavs hit 64.3 percent of their shots, including 15 of 19 shots in the paint and seven of 13 3-pointers.
The Magic's combined January record in three years under coach Jacque Vaughn is 7-39. With reports in the wake of Thursday night's home loss to the Milwaukee Bucks suggesting a coaching change could be forthcoming, the Magic didn't do much through three quarters to dispel the notion that Vaughn is on shaky ground.
Willie Green sparked a furious comeback for the Magic during a fourth quarter in which Ben Gordon was ejected with 7:54 remaining by referee Kane Fitzgerald.
Vaughn made two changes in his starting lineup, with Evan Fournier opening at a guard spot in place of Oladipo and Tobias Harris at power forward for Channing Frye. It was Harris' first start since spraining his left ankle three weeks ago against the Los Angeles Lakers. But he went to the bench after picking up two fouls in the opening 2:39 and had trouble getting into a rhythm after he returned.
The Mavs, coming off a 93-72 win Friday night over the Miami Heat, became the 12th consecutive team to put up more than 100 points against the Magic. They accomplished that despite losing Rajon Rondo less than two minutes into the game when he was accidentally kneed in the face by teammate Richard Jefferson. Rondo had to be helped to the locker room with a bloody nose, and he did not return because of what team officials called a head injury.
Nikola Vucevic had 17 points and 16 rebounds but did not play at all in the fourth quarter as Vaughn went primarily with a lineup of Green, Frye, Maurice Harkless, Aaron Gordon and Ben Gordon, with Fournier coming in after Ben Gordon's ejection.
THE TURNING POINT
After the Magic made it a 94-89 game on Frye's 3-pointer, Monta Ellis assisted on a lob to Tyson Chandler and hit two shots to push the Mavs' lead back to double figures for good.
THE DIFFERENCE MAKER
In the absence of Rondo, Ellis handed out a season-high 13 assists to go with his 25 points.
STAT OF THE GAME
The 34 points that the Mavericks had after one quarter were more than they had in the first half at Miami.
Monday night at Oklahoma City, 8 p.m.