A look at positives and negatives as the Magic cruise past Cavs 97-86
The Orlando Magic big men were far too much for the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers and led the Magic to a relatively easy 97-86 victory at the Quicken Loans Arena. Cleveland fans waited and prayed, but Zydrunas Ilgauskas wasn’t walking through that tunnel.
Dwight Howard and Brandon Bass overpowered the undersized Cavs the entire game and combined for 50 points and as a team the Magic out-rebounded Cleveland 47-38.
It’s hard to take too much from this game given how depleted Cleveland is, but the Magic can take several positives away (from the first 3 quarters at least):
- The aggression from Brandon Bass is a huge positive. Far too often lately he has become a black hole when receiving the ball and just held the ball with uncertainty. The last few games, Brandon has been attacking on the catch and even more importantly, he is moving off the ball which is leading to easier shots at the basket.
- The Magic didn’t entirely lose their lead with Duhon and Arenas on the court together. Many basketball aficionados assume that combo will cause the Basketball Gods to strike a lightning bolt through the court, but it hasn’t happened as of yet. The dynamic duo of Gilhon combined to shoot 2-9 for 5 points and also had a combined 5 turnovers. The majority of that can be attributed to Gil, but “hon” was just as bad… the stats just don’t show it. This started as a positive, I promise.
- The Magic swept the Cavs for the season with 4 victories. It was the first time in the 40 year history of the Cavs that any team has done that. Yay?
- Dwight Howard had a dable-dable before the first half was even over and finished with 28 points, 18 rebounds and 4 blocks. Dwight was also an impressive 10-12 from the free throw line.
- Stan Van Gundy showed great restraint in his post game press conference when repeatedly prodded about the Magic’s inability to close the game, and managed to not verbally assault any reporters or his players. WINNING.
And Stan wouldn’t be very proud of me if I don’t mention the negatives:
- The biggie here is the huge lead that the Magic blew in the 4th quarter that forced the starters to play the entire game. The Magic led by 22 points at the beginning of the 4th before lackadaisical defense and poor turnovers allowed Cleveland to get within 9. The Magic should have won this game by at least 30.
- The Magic sorely miss J.J. Redick and his team defense, off the ball movement and shooting. His absence forces changes in the rotation and neither Gilbert Arenas nor Quentin Richardson can provide the intangibles that J.J. brings. Redick is still sidelined with an abdominal strain and is expected to miss Wednesday’s game against the Knicks as well.
- The Magic’s once confident Bench Mobb has fallen apart as Gilbert has struggled and Redick has been injured. The bench scored 20 points tonight but 12 of those came from Ryan Anderson. 9 of the teams 20 turnovers came from the bench despite their limited minutes.
- Turnovers. Turnovers. Turnovers.
- Gilhon. Did I mention that?
All in all, every win is nice. It may be frustrating to watch the team blow the big lead, but in reality the game tonight was never in doubt.
The Magic are back in action on Wednesday night in New York when the face off against Carmelo and the Knicks. The tip is set for 8pm and will be televised nationally on ESPN.
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