The Orlando Magic‘s rough start to the 2019-2020 campaign continues.
After winning their opening game of the season against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando has now gone 1-5 in the six games following the opener.
To boot, head coach Steve Clifford’s team suffered arguably their most agonizing defeat of the young season Wednesday night — a 107-106 road loss to the Dallas Mavericks. Center Nikola Vucevic missed an open three-pointer as time expired. Prior to that, the Mavericks forced two turnovers on forward Aaron Gordon on consecutive possessions.
Gordon also fouled out with less than 30 seconds remaining in regulation.
Clifford’s 500th career game as a head coach resulted in his 260th-career loss. His team managed to reach the 100-point mark for the first time this season, yet it still wasn’t enough to overcome those costly turnovers down the stretch.
— Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) November 7, 2019
Doncic leads the way in Barea’s season debut
Luka Doncic, the young Slovenian phenom, did indeed finish with a rather impressive stat line — 27 points to go along with 7 rebounds and 7 assists.
However, he and his fellow European running mate, Kristaps Porzingis, (10 points, 8 rebounds) struggled early against the Magic.
Queue the wily 13-year veteran J.J. Barea.
In the second quarter, the former Northeastern star drained three straight triples and recorded 11 straight points to help get Dallas within two at halftime. That was all of Barea’s scoring on the night. Following the interval, Doncic scored 12 of his 27 points in the third quarter.
The padding would help Dallas survive Orlando’s late surge in the fourth quarter.
Jonathan Isaac shines for Orlando
Orlando won 17 more games in 2018-2019 than they did in 2017-2018. They were able to reach the playoffs last year as the seventh-seed. Without a doubt, Clifford is expected to either replicate or exceed those results this time around.
Despite a disappointing 2-6 record, there are positives for Clifford to analyze from this game.
Gordon was essentially ineffective late in the game, but the young forward still collected 23 points on 59 percent shooting.
“It’s two plays down the stretch,” said Gordon after the contest. “One, I like the way I was being aggressive. The other one, I could have made a better decision. We still got a good shot at the end. It’s what we wanted but executing down the stretch there’s a couple of things we could have done better for sure.”
Similarly, the second-year forward from Florida State, Jonathan Isaac, also impressed against the Mavericks.
In fact, Isaac (13 points, 10 rebounds, six blocks) had himself a historic night on Wednesday. The 22-year-old displayed his wide range of skill sets to the fullest. Isaac became just the third NBA player since 1983-84 to collect 13-plus points, 10-plus rebounds, six-plus blocks, five-plus assists and four-plus steals. He joins none other than Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson.
What to know
Orlando will now face the Memphis Grizzlies tomorrow night at the Amway Center, as they look to avoid their fifth consecutive loss. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. ET.
Dallas, now sitting in second place in the Western Conference, will host the New York Knocks tomorrow.
Tip-off for that one is at 8:30 p.m. ET.