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Athleticism keys Magic to victory over Cavs. Seriously!

2012 February 3
by Brian Serra

They planned this. They had to. The schedule makers knew that the Magic would start playing their worst basketball of the season in late January and decided to schedule the Washington Wizards and Cleveland Cavaliers to help cure Orlando’s woes.

The Magic beat the Cavs 102 to 94 on Friday night behind a well balanced scoring attack and a much needed dose of athleticism off the bench. Dwight Howard put up 19 points, 16 rebounds and 8 blocks while Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu and Ryan Anderson had 19, 18 and 17 respectively.

Meanwhile, the bench showed some signs of athleticism that haven’t been seen in Orlando for a long time. Dwight Howard swatting balls out of bounds, Jason Richardson half-court reverse alley oops, Earl Clark with monster dunks, Von Wafer trying to match him, and the energetic Ish Smith off the bench using his great speed to create shots for others. The types of plays that energize your teammates and the crowd.

To be fair to Cleveland, they are a far better team this year with number one pick Kyrie Irving and a healthy Anderson Varejao roaming the court. Stan Van Gundy was gushing over Irving prior to the game and even said that he is on the verge of being the next Chris Paul or Deron Williams.

Unfortunately for Cleveland, their next big star limited their ability to follow the current blueprint to beating the Magic; pressing the point guards. It’s one thing to let Avery Bradley and the like play 30 minutes of ferocious full court defense, but it’s another to ask your star player and best scorer to do the same. The reason teams don’t do it more often is simple: it’s tough.

The Magic played excellent defense for 3 quarters holding Cleveland to just 53 points after the 3rd. The Cavs tried to make a run at the end putting up 41 in the 4th, but Hedo time held them off.  Turk scored 11 of his 18 in the 4th. The win for Orlando improved them to 14-9 on the season and helped further erase the miserable end to January.

They are off to Cincinnati tonight before playing in Indianapolis tomorrow night. With the Super Bowl being held in Indy, the team wasn’t able to get a hotel. Instead they get to make the 2.5 hour drive into Indianapolis before the game. That should help keep them fresh on the back end of a back-to-back!

Notes from tonight’s game:

  • Glen Davis was suspended for the next two games after getting into a verbal altercation with Stan Van Gundy at Practice today. The team cited it as “conduct detrimental to the team.”
  • J.J. Redick, the teams most reliable bench scorer was held scoreless.
  • The Magic had only 5 turnovers on the night, a season low. The previous low was 10.
  • See above note. That is a phenomenal outlier.

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