The Orlando Magic used a balanced attack and an incredible three-point shooting night to dispose of the Cleveland Cavaliers 110-95. It wasn’t a great start for the Magic. In fact, the Magic allowed one of the league’s worst offensive teams (Cleveland is one of the worst defensive teams as well) to score 57 points in the first half before finally corralling the Cavs in the second half, holding them to just 17 third quarter points and 21 fourth quarter points. Two of Orlando’s newcomers, Gilbert Arenas (22 points, 11 assists, and 6 rebounds) and Jason Richardson (20 points) led the way. The two combined to shoot 9-of-14 from beyond the arc.
Despite scoring 110 points, the Magic scored just 26 points in the paint and couldn’t get their best player, Dwight Howard, involved in the game down low. Howard scored just 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting and turned the ball over 7 times. The performance of Orlando’s bench allowed Howard to sit out the fourth quarter, which is another reason why his numbers looked so pedestrian.
- Orlando, as a team, shot just 21-of-48 on two-point field goals.
- It was all about the three-point shot – the Magic were 19-of-31 from beyond the arc.
- Dwight Howard wasn’t the only big that couldn’t get going. After putting together a string of big games, starting power forward Brandon Bass attempted just 4 shots and finished with 2 points.
- Orlando’s bench provided a big lift to the Magic. Arenas, J.J. Redick, Ryan Anderson and Earl Clark combined to score nearly half (54) of Orlando’s 110 points.
- The Magic entered the fourth quarter clinging to a one-point lead but back-to-back three-pointers by Ryan Anderson put them up 7. 4 quick points by Ramon Sessions cut the lead back to 3 but the Magic extended the lead to double digits on Jameer Nelson’s jumper with 6:37 to go and never looked back.
- The Magic wound up featuring a back court of Arenas and Nelson more than they have in any other game. With Cleveland featuring an extremely small back court of Mo Williams and Daniel Gibson to start the game, the decision was probably easy for Van Gundy.
- Earl Clark had his best game in a Magic uniform, scoring 12 points on 6-of-10 shooting.
- Arenas wasn’t perfect – he had 5 of Orlando’s 19 turnovers – but you couldn’t have asked him to do much more. He simply made plays for both himself and his teammates. He hit the boards, grabbing 6 rebounds and took advantage of Cleveland’s smaller guards by not only playing 32 minutes but by grabbing 3 steals.
Next Up: The Magic return home to host the New York Knicks Thursday night.
Final Thought: Things are looking pretty good for the Orlando Magic right now.
(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, co-host of CB Sports Radio from 5-7 pm week days (1420sports.com) and ESPN 1080′s Magic Insider (http://espn1080.com). Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here).