- Jean-Jacques Taylor, ESPN Staff Writer
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West played the last 15 minutes as the Mavs rallied from a 77-62 deficit late in the third quarter to beat Orlando, 100-98, Friday night.
"Delonte West played a massive game for us," coach Rick Carlisle said.
West had 11 points, two assists and two rebounds in the second half. He drilled a 3-pointer with 1:32 left that pulled the Mavs within 97-96, and with 1:09 left he made a pair of free throws to give the Mavs a 98-97 lead, their first since the first quarter.
Not bad for a guy who just returned Thursday after missing five weeks with a broken finger. He's playing with the two fingers on his right hand taped together and heavily-wrapped in gauze.
"He's a player on both ends of the court," Dirk Nowitzki said. "He's a great defender for his size, and offensively he can just make plays. He can bring the ball up, he can post and he can shoot. The 3 he made was huge because it made it a one-possession game."
West is just happy to be back in the rotation after missing so much time. Two quality performances by West led to Rodrigue Beaubois getting a DNP-coach's decision against Orlando.
West is going to be Kidd's backup, and Beaubois will likely be a change-of-pace guard. The Mavs like the way West runs the team, and he's not as erratic as Beaubois.
"There are still some things I can't do, like go to my right the way I want," said West, "but I'm just happy to contribute. This was a big win for us, and I'm proud of the way we just kept fighting when we were down.
"Hopefully, this will be the start of us playing our best basketball."
A few more notes from the Mavs' second win this season when trailing after three quarters:
1.The game's best closer: Right now, Dirk Nowitzki is the game's best closer. You want the ball in his hands at the of a close game because he has a variety of ways to make a game-winner. Usually, he takes the ball at the free throw line, which allows him to drive left or right. Against the Magic, he banked in a one-legged fadeaway over Hedo Turkoglu with five seconds left to give the Mavs a two-point lead. So Dirk, did you mean to bank it in? "We'll never know," he said with a smile. "I've made a lot of them off the glass, so I guess you guys don't really know. I wanted to create a little more separation, but Hedo did a good job of playing me. They didn't double me, so I took it."
2. Haywood returns in fine fashion: Rick Carlisle didn't expect Brendan Haywood to play 25 minutes in his first game back after a sprained knee forced him to miss seven games. But he's glad he did. "I didn't think he'd be able to play 25 minutes," Carlisle said, "but that's an indication he's been working and getting ready to play while he's been out." The 263-pound Haywood didn't allow Dwight Howard to get good position in the post without fighting for it. Although Howard scored 19 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, he didn't dominate the game.
3. Marion does it all: Shawn Marion put his vast array of skills on display against the Magic, scoring 15 points -- he made 7-of-10 shots -- with nine rebounds, four assists and a steal. In the third quarter, when Orlando was on the verge of blowing out the Mavs, Marion had seven points and three rebounds to keep the score close.