After a poor first quarter offensively, the Orlando Magic used a 30-point second quarter to take control of the game. The Magic built a 20-point second half lead before letting the Cavs get back into the game. Despite Cleveland’s employment of the Hack-A-Howard strategy down the stretch, the Magic made some timely plays to ultimately hold off the Cavs.
Jason Richardson and Dwight Howard each had 19 points for the Magic while Alonzo Gee led the Cavs with 20.
It looked like a more athletic Magic team with some of the younger players – Earl Clark, Von Wafer and Ish Smith – having to play bigger roles. Wafer once again was instant offense scoring 11 points on 3-of-6 shooting in just 16 minutes. Earl Clark showed what he can do with a couple of big dunks, including one in which he ran passed Chris Duhon on a fast break to put it in. Clark still is far from a great shooter, but he did hit a jumper that gave Ish Smith his first assist as a member of the Magic. Clark finished with eight points and five rebounds, but he was 3-of-9 from the field and picked up four fouls in 23 minutes. After a very shaky start trying to handle the ball, Smith settled down and wound up playing a pretty solid game. Stan Van Gundy was happy with Smith’s performance (two points, four assists, two rebound) but wish he’d could stay on the court – Smith picked up five fouls in just 8:46.
Dwight Howard didn’t look great early on – he let Cleveland’s guards get by him a couple of times and had trouble getting the ball in the basket in the early going. As the game went on, he looked more engaged and started blocking seemingly every Cleveland shot that wasn’t a jumper. The blocks were impressive, too. He had one he hit with both hands like a volley ball spike and another when he came from behind to block Ramon Sessions’s shot before he could really even get it up. He started 3-of-9 from the free throw line but settled down late and wound up going 9-of-16 from the stripe. That was key because Cleveland was using the Hack-A-Howard strategy as they got back into the game. Howard finished with 19 points, 16 rebounds and eight blocks.
Both Van Gundy and Howard were happy with the aggressiveness of Orlando’s wings, Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson. Turkoglu was great on the pick-and-roll down the stretch, keeping Cleveland at bay. He finished with 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting, grabbed seven boards and dished out four assists. Richardson was in attack mode early, choosing to go to the basket rather than just settling for three’s. That mindset seemed to help get Richardson going from beyond the arc where he made three of his four attempts. He finished with 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting.
- Although he had a very poor night shooting (7-of-21 from the field), you can tell Kyrie Irving has the chance to be something special. He can get to the basket almost at will. Van Gundy, who usually isn’t fond of rookies and awards, said he would considering putting Irving in the All-Star game if it was up to him.
- Orlando had five players in double figures (Richardson 19, Howard 19, Turkoglu 18, Ryan Anderson 17 and Von Wafer 11).
- J.J. Redick had a poor night. He was held scoreless on 0-of-5 shooting and looked upset about it after the game.
- The Magic have now defeated the Cavs seven consecutive times.
- Van Gundy was upset with the way Orlando rebounded the ball and said the Magic really need a consistent second option on the boards with Howard.
- Howard refers to Ish Smith as Marlon Wayans from the movie Little Man.
- Van Gundy and the Magic would not go into detail when asked about Glen Davis and his suspension.
Next Up: The Magic will be in Indiana to take on the Pacers Saturday.
Final Thought: The Magic aren’t exactly world-beaters after defeating Washington and Cleveland, but these wins are certainly good for their confidence.
(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, ESPN Florida’s Magic and NBA Insider (http://ESPNFlorida.com) and is the co-host of the ESPNFlorida.com Insiders Show Sunday mornings at 10:00 am EST. Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Facebook and follow him onTwitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here)
Tags: Anderson Varejao Chris Duhon Cleveland Cavaliers Dwight Howard Glen Davis Hedo Turkoglu J.j. Redick Jameer Nelson Jason Richardson Kyrie Irving Larry Hughes Mychel Thompson Omri Casspi Orlando Magic Otis Smith Quentin Richardson Ramon Sessions Ryan Anderson Stan Van Gundy Tristian Thompson Von Wafer