Mistakes by the Lake
The Orlando Magic fell to the Cleveland Cavaliers 119-108 Friday night, extending Orlando’s losing streak to 12 games. The Magic were led by Nik Vucevic’s double double, with 25 points and 13 rebounds. Arron Afflalo had 23 points in his return to action after missing the last three games, and Andrew Nicholson had an excellent night finishing with 21 points, one shy of his career high. Jameer Nelson chipped in 15 and that was really it for the Magic. Orlando kept the game close throughout, but a key stretch closing out the 3rd quarter proved to be the dagger tonight.
Turnovers were the key tonight. Orlando turned the ball over 19 times, to only 6 for Cleveland. All season long they have been an issue for this young team. Tonight was a microcosm of the entire season. The game started with the Magic and the Cavaliers staying even throughout the first half. Orlando was dominant inside in that first half with Vucevic and Nicholson having their way in the paint. Nicholson’s footwork continues to improve as the season goes on. The only thing keeping Cleveland in the game in the first have were Orlando’s turnovers.
As the second half started, it was more of the same, except Cleveland had much more success inside. Marreese Speights played like a man possessed in the 3rd quarter, getting rebounds and getting to the free throw line. The Magic kept it close with timely three pointers and hustle. The score was tied 80-80 with two minutes left in the 3rd, then the wheels came off. The players have to be pressing, the losing streak has got to be wearing on them. Tonight in that 3rd quarter, they played like a team that knew it had to play perfectly in order to win, and when that perfection ended, you could feel the wind come right out of their sails.
The final quarter was another frustrating quarter. Orlando doing just enough to stick around, but not enough to get over the hump. I feel bad for the guys. I know they get paid a lot of money to play a kids game, but this is getting to the point of being hard to watch. With the rash of injuries, and a lack of talent depth, its going to be difficult to win many more games the rest of this season. Once the trade deadline passes and whatever happens there is over, the team will settle in a bit more. Its going to take a night like the Pacers game on Jan. 16, where every shot is going in, for this team to be able to get in the victory column. I’m trying not to sound negative. This is a team of good guys that like playing together, but this roster needs a significant talent upgrade.
The Magic will try to break the losing streak with a Sunday night tilt against the Portland Trailblazers. Tip is set for 6pm.
Matt Jensen is new to the MBO team and a proud contributing writer. He operates as MBO’s Sr. Sioux Falls Correspondent. Follow him on Twitter here.