The trip to Florida had a much better ending for the Dallas Mavericks than how it started.
A day after fumbling their way to a six-point loss in Miami, the Mavs protected the ball better Saturday and got out of the Amway Center with a 108-100 triumph over the Orlando Magic.
The victory enabled the Mavs (6-4) to complete this two-game Florida road trip with a 1-1 record going into a three-game homestand, which starts Monday against the Philadelphia 76ers.
With the youthful edge the Magic has over Dallas, the Mavs were concerned that they would wear down toward the end of this second leg of a back-to-back. But whenever the Magic made one crucial play to sneak closer, coach Rick Carlisle’s group would counter with a critical play of their own.
“This is a big win for us,” said Dirk Nowitzki, who had 18 points.
“We’ve got a winning record going home for three games now, and against a young athletic team, I like what we did.”
What the Mavs did was hold the fort against the Magic, which whittled a 15-point deficit down to 91-87. But Monta Ellis found Shawn Marion in the corner for a wide-open 3-pointer that padded the Mavs’ lead to seven with 4:37 left.
“I thought Marion’s three out of the left corner was probably the thing that iced the game,” Carlisle said. “That was a huge play.”
Ellis served up another big play when he floated in the air and nailed a 14-footer that gave the Mavs a 102-93 lead with 2:32 left. Ellis wound up with 19 points, eight assists and three steals while playing 40 workmanlike minutes.
“Monta’s getting much more used to playing with our guys, where guys are,” Carlisle said. “Tonight he did a great, great job of attacking how they were playing the pick-and-rolls.
“He was under control. He found two or three guys for wide open threes at big times.”
For the most part, the Mavs were under control. After committing a season-high 24 turnovers Friday against the Heat, they turned the ball over a season-low 10 times against Orlando.
“The more we cut down on our turnovers out there and just value each possession out there, then good things are going to happen for us,” said Marion, who contributed 11 points and eight boards. “We were looking for each other and sharing the wealth out there, and it’s starting to show.”
The Mavs shot 51.2 percent from the field and were so busy sharing the wealth that they handed out 27 assists.
In addition to the eight assists by Ellis, Jose Calderon had nine assists to go with his 11 points. Also, DeJuan Blair hopped off the bench to score 18 points, grab five rebounds and pick up a pair of steals.
The Magic even went to the Hack-A-DeJuan in the fourth quarter, but Blair responded by converting 3-of-4 free throws.
“I was just feeling in a groove,” Blair said. “They started hacking me towards the end — it was extra points.”
The Mavs are now 3-1 in the second game of a back-to-back.
“We’ve remedied some of our problems from [Friday] night, took care of the ball better and I thought we spaced the floor well,” Carlisle said. “Defensively, we didn’t do a great job to give up 53 percent.
“But when you find a way to get it done the second night of a back-to-back on the road, you’ll take it and run.”