For the first time since 2003, Cleveland came to Orlando without LeBron James. Turns out, they sort of needed him. The Magic beat the “new look” Cleveland Cavaliers, 111-100 Friday night in front of a sellout crowd at the Amway Center. The game was controlled by the Magic the entire night and Cleveland did just enough to keep the game from being a blowout. Dwight Howard led the Magic with 23 points and 11 rebounds and all 5 starters would score in double figures. Jameer Nelson continued his impressive play, scoring 20 points for the Magic and the team was led in assists (9) by Chris Duhon. There was no letdown for the Magic offense after their big victory over the Miami Heat Monday night, but the defense is still a concern. The intensity seems to be there, but the players appear to always be a step too slow. Whenever the team is playing well on one side of the ball, it seems to be lacking on the other end. If this team is going to challenge for a championship then they must show up on BOTH ends of the court. With all that being said, the team still won tonight and increased their record to an Eastern Conference second best, 11-4.
For more news and notes from tonight’s game, click “read more” below:
- Vince Carter sat out again tonight with a sprained knee. J.J. Redick started in his place for the second straight game and played well again. He scored 15 points and dished out 5 assists. Most importantly, his shooting stroke and confidence are back in full force.
- Dwight Howard attempted 24 free throws tonight, which tied his career high. The Cavs turned to the Hack-a-Howard late in the 4th quarter and it would have worked if Cleveland had anyone that could consistently score the basketball. Dwight started the game 7-10 from the free throw line, but made only 3-14 for the remainder of the night.
- Rashard played well tonight as well and is getting more involved with the offense earlier in the game. For a few games there it was like Rashard was just casually going with the flow of the game, but with Vince out, ‘Shard has stepped up his aggressiveness.
- Byron Scott was NOT happy after the game and had some harsh words for the officials. He said after the game that it “was hard to win against 8 people” and kindly suggested that they should look for a new line of work. When asked if he was worried about getting fined for that comment, he replied with,”my checkbook is fine”.
- Stan Van Gundy had little to say in his post game press conference tonight besides harping on the defensive issues. It’s human nature for players to slack on defense when they are shooting the ball so well, especially against a known inferior opponent. However, the ability to play your hardest every night opposed to most nights, is what separates good teams from great teams.
The Magic are right back in action tomorrow night when they face off against John Wall in Washington D.C. Tip off is scheduled for 7pm and will be televised nationally on NBA TV and locally on Fox Sports Florida.