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Thursday, April 1, 2010
Another home game down the tubes

By Jeff Caplan



DALLAS -- The Mavericks are in a fight for the No. 2 seed in the West, but they're hardly taking care of their home in the process. Clearly leg-weary from Wednesday's night's overtime struggle at Memphis, the Mavs were blown out by the well-rested Orlando Magic, 97-82.

Still, with so much on the line, the Mavs were disappointingly sluggish on their home floor and fell to 3-3 at home since reeling off eight in a row during their 13-game win streak. They've had the awful blowout against the Knicks, a late collapse against the Celtics and now this double-digit loss that wasn't close since Orlando extended its seven-point halftime lead to 10 and then as many as 18 in the third quarter.

The Mavs slipped into the No. 3 spot in the West standings, tied at 50-26 with the Utah Jazz, which won the season series. Phoenix (49-26) is a half-game back and can move into a tie with the Mavs with a win Friday night at Detroit.

J.J. Barea tried to jumpstart the Mavs when he finally entered the game with 5:24 left in the third quarter and helped rally the team to an 83-70 deficit and then 90-80. But, the Magic's 3-pointers -- they hit 14 in all -- was enough to withstand the late rally.

Dirk Nowitzki led the Mavs with 24 points, but was just 9-of-22 from the field, extending his skid to five games of not shooting at least 50 percent in a game. Other than Barea's quick flurry that netted him 16 points in 17 minutes, everybody else was awful. Shawn Marion had four points on 2-of-9 shooting. Caron Butler had three points with no field goals and Jason Kidd had seven points, five in the first quarter, on 2-of-8 shooting.

Jason Terry made some buckets late during the comeback attempt, but overall was just 6-of-16.

The Magic was lead by hot-shooting reserve Mickael Pietrus, who had 24 points on 7-of-8 shooting, including 4-of-6 from beyond the arc. Vince Carter had 19 points, Dwight Howard had 17 points and 20 rebounds and Jameer Nelson scored 14 points with seven assists.

Orlando held a 30-point advantage from the 3-point arc as the Mavs made just 4-of-14 after starting 1-of-9.

At least the Mavs can take solace in their Wednesday win at Memphis. Had that rally fallen short, they'd be looking at a two-game skid with the Oklahoma City Thunder coming to town on Saturday.