The Orlando Magic came roaring out of the gate, but were unable to sustain the momentum into the 2nd half. The Cleveland Cavaliers were down by as much as 18 points at one point during the game. The Cavaliers fought back and eventually won the game 110-105.
The Magic had some kind of potion working in the 1st half and shot a blistering 58.5 percent from the field. However, the Cavaliers responded in the 2nd half with strong defense that forced the Magic into 25 turnovers and also featured the emergence of the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NBA draft Anthony Bennett. He scored 14 points in the 4th quarter and finished the game with 18 points to help lead the Cavaliers to the win.
Once the Magic became plagued with turnovers, the game favored the Cavaliers. Another problem for the Magic was the overabundance of fouls. The Magic had 34 fouls and simply gave away too many free points to the Cavaliers.
Despite the loss, there were still plenty of bright spots for the Orlando Magic. Rookie Victor Oladipo once again put on a show for the Magic and was a key part of the 37 1st quarter points. Oladipo finished the game with 18 points, eight rebounds and three assists. If there is one area that Oladipo needs to improve on it’s his ball handling. Oladipo turned the ball over four times and struggled to deal with the pressure brought on by the Cavaliers double-teams.
Magic center Nikola Vucevic was also impressive in all phases of the game. Vucevic continues to add to his offensive repertoire and was able to score 15 points for the Magic. The improvement was also evident on the defensive end of the court. While Vucevic only had one block, he forced the Cavaliers to alter their shots and was able to use his improved strength to avoid getting bullied in the paint.
In the 2012-13 season, the Magic struggled with winning close games. However, it is important to remember that if this was a regular season game, veterans Jameer Nelson and Arron Afflalo, who each played only 18 minutes, would have been in the game towards the end. The opportunity for the young players to navigate difficult waters near the end of games is imperative for their development.
Afflalo for his part looked better on offense and had 14 points in the game, but struggled defensively. For a player known for his defense, Afflalo made a number of mistakes. The veteran defender got caught on a few screens that left his man wide-open for a shot and he also got caught on a back-door cut to the basket by Cavaliers guard Dion Waiters. Despite the struggles defensively, Orlando Magic head coach Jacque Vaughn praised Afflalo’s offensive performance.
“It’s a tough thing to do in this league to be the focus of every defense every single night,” Vaughn said. “I think it was a great challenge for him at this stage of his career. You really get a chance to understand what you’re good at, what you need to improve on and how difficult it is to bear that challenge.”
The next game for the Orlando Magic will be on the road against the Dallas Mavericks on Monday. Coverage of the game can be heard on the radio on ESPN 580 Orlando starting at 8:30 p.m.