Sharing the basketball and scoring it have become a common trend for a Dallas Mavericks team that will open the second half of the season Wednesday versus the Orlando Magic.
Dallas, which will put the finishing touches on a five-game homestand, has scored 100-plus points in 14 of the last 16 games, averaging 107.9 ppg in that period. The Mavericks have also dished out 20 or more assists in nine straight contests and are hoping to stay the course in the next half of the season.
"We're looking to get a good start," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said Tuesday on what he wants to see in the second half. "We got off to a very poor start the last time we played these guys (Magic). Our concentration wasn't good, we were making some mistakes, and then we were fortunate to be able to get back into it. So we want to get off to a much better start tomorrow night."
Carlisle said it will be a game which the Mavs must play it tight and "have it together," noting how the Magic have beaten some good teams despite their poor record. He mentioned how J.J. Redick, Jameer Nelson and Arron Afflalo can be dangerous players, and how his team has to get back in the mix right away.
"Whatever rust there is we gotta shake it off as quickly as possible," Carlisle said."We gotta have everybody ready, it's a simple fact."
The Mavericks, who are 4 1/2 games off the final playoff spot in the West, dished out 27 assists in last Wednesday's 123-100 win over the Sacramento Kings. The Mavericks improved to 13-4 this season when they post 25-plus assists in a game, and received nine assists to go along with 18 points from Darren Collison. Vince Carter netted 26 points and passed Larry Bird (21,791) for 29th place on the NBA's all-time scoring list.
Mavs star Dirk Nowitzki finished with 17 points, eight rebounds and six assists in the win over the Kings. Dallas, which had a 64-25 advantage in bench points and led by 17 at one point, has won four of six games overall and is 3-1 on the current homestand (15-10 as the host).
Dallas will visit New Orleans Friday night. In injury news for the Mavs, guard O.J. Mayo is probable against Orlando with a balky ankle.
Meanwhile, the Magic picked up right where they left off before the All-Star break with Tuesday's 105-92 setback to the Charlotte Bobcats in the finale of a three-game homestand (1-2).
Nikola Vucevic scored 18 points to go with 11 rebounds and Andrew Nicholson scored 13 points and grabbed 12 boards for the Magic, losers in two straight and 14 of 15 games. Orlando received 18 points from Afflalo in defeat and was down by a 37-27 score after the first quarter.
"Bad basketball and bad defense," Redick said. "They didn't seem to have any problem with energy, or from the (All-Star break) layoff. It was bad."
The Magic made only 4-of-25 3-pointers.
Orlando will try to stop an eight-game road losing streak Wednesday and owns a miserable 6-19 mark away from home. The team will also visit Memphis Friday.
In a 111-105 setback to the Mavericks on Jan. 20, the Magic stormed out to an 18-4 lead and squandered the seemingly comfortable margin. Orlando had 14 turnovers for 24 Dallas points and has dropped 11 of the previous 15 encounters between the teams.
The Magic are unbeaten in the last three at Dallas, however.