Final Dime: Magic 98, Cavaliers 92
Antawn Jamison tallied 19 points in Sunday's loss to Orlando.
David Liam Kyle
The Wine and Gold continued to rest their starters and although their skeleton squad gave the Eastern Conference Champs all they could handle, it was once again a case of too much Dwight Howard, as the Cavaliers dropped their third straight, 98-92, in the final regular season contest at The Q.
Once again, Cleveland rested the reigning (and likely future) MVP – LeBron’s third straight. Anthony Parker and Shaquille O’Neal were in street clothes and Mo Williams and Antawn Jamison got the fourth quarter off.
But even with a veritable All-Star team watching from the sidelines, the shorthanded Cavaliers went the distance with Orlando – leading at one point in the second period by as many as 16. But the full-strength Magic – stilly vying for the league’s second-best mark with the Lakers – simply pulled away in the final three minutes of the contest.
Delonte West led the Cavaliers with 21 points off the bench – going 7-for-12 from the floor and 6-of-7 from the stripe. West, who tied his career-high in assists before being shown the door on Friday, followed up with seven helpers on Sunday.
Jamison and Mo Williams followed up with 19 points apiece in just three quarters of action. Jamison added six boards and Mo led both teams with nine assists. He and Delonte accounted for 16 of the Cavaliers 17 assists.
“Guys have stepped up and it’s been good for the guys that haven’t been playing as much,” said Williams. “We’re just trying to get to the playoffs as healthy as possible.”
Jamario Moon – getting his second straight start – rounded out the Cavaliers in double-figures with 12 points on 5-for-13 shooting. Zydrunas Ilgauskas went just 4-for-12 from the floor, but led the Wine and Gold with a dozen boards.
With Shaq still nursing his surgically-repaired thumb, Dwight Howard was dominant in the pivot. The reigning (and likely future) Defensive Player of the Year finished with 22 points and 13 boards – tripling the entire Cavs team with six blocked shots.
The Cavaliers still out-rebounded Orlando, but lost the assist battle by a dozen and were muscled in the paint, with the Magic outscoring Cleveland, 46-32.
Cleveland will close the regular season on Wednesday night when they face the Hawks in Atlanta.
2. The Wine and Gold finished their regular season at The Q with a 35-6 mark – tying the 1991-92 and 1992-93 Cavs for the third in franchise history. Over the past two seasons, the Cavaliers are an NBA-best 74-8 (.902) at The Q.
3. The Cavaliers finish out the regular season with a 6-4 record against the “big three” teams – Orlando, Boston and L.A. (Two of those losses came after the Cavaliers had clinched.) Last year, Cleveland was 3-6 against the triumvirate.
4. Cleveland still isn’t sure of its first-round opponent, but the Chicago-Toronto game on Sunday evening could go a long way to determining who it’ll be. Toronto faces Detroit and New York after tonight. The Bulls host the Celtics before finishing up in Charlotte.
5. The Cavaliers haven’t won a season series over the Magic since the 2005-06 season and will have to wait another year to try again.
6. Zydrunas Ilgauskas is looking more comfortable with every outing and notched a season-high 12 boards on Sunday – barely missing his first double-double of the season with nine points.
7. ABC still got some LeBron on Sunday, as Number 23 called some of the game during first quarter. He was also presented with a prestigious Hubie Award for MVP.
8. Daniel Gibson – who had been nursing a mid-foot sprain – saw his first and longest (8:05) action in some time. Since February 23, Boobie has appeared in just six games.
9. Jamario Moon is rapidly making his case to be part of the playoff rotation – averaging 13.7 points on .567 shooting over his last three contests. In that stretch Moon has tallied 4.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.7 steals while going 6-11 (.545) from long-distance.
“We’ve got something big coming up and I just want to get out there and get a rhythm if my name is called during the playoffs,” said Moon. “If it does, I’ll be ready.”
10. Sunday was Fan Appreciation Night at The Q – where the Cavaliers have sold out 77 consecutive games. This season, the Cavs sold out all 41 regular season home games – a first in franchise history.