Final Dime: Magic 110, Cavaliers 95
Mo Williams finished with 14 points in Tuesday's loss at
David Liam Kyle
But with their All-Star center in warm-ups during the final period, the Wine and Gold’s old nemesis – Gilbert Arenas – took over, going 3-for-4 from beyond the arc as the Magic canned 10 second-half treys to send the Cavaliers to the 110-95 defeat, their 13th loss in the last 14 outings.
Regarded by many as the best pivot man in the league, Howard was thoroughly outplayed by Anderson Varejao, who turned in another monster effort in a losing cause.
The Cavaliers trailed by just three at intermission and gave the 20-12 Magic all they could handle in the third – led by the Wild Thing.
In that third period, the Brazilian big notched eight points, four boards, two steals, two blocks and an assist. In that same quarter, Howard – who dominated Varejao and Zydrunas Ilgauskas in the 2009 postseason – finished with two points, three boards, three personal fouls and five turnovers.
With momentum on their side, the Wine and Gold headed to the final quarter down just a point,
But with starters, Howard, Jason Richardson and Brandon Bass taking the entire fourth quarter off, the Magic still managed to post a 35-point period – going 7-for-10 from beyond the arc. Arenas and Ryan Anderson combined to go 5-for-7 from long distance in the final quarter as Orlando pulled away down the stretch.
"You guys have to probably tell me who’s the so called best center in the league right now because I think Andy’s up there," praised Coach Scott. "I don’t think he gets enough credit for how hard he plays and the things he’s been able to do for us. Unfortunately we haven’t been able to combine his effort with wins right now."
Antawn Jamison led the Cavaliers with 21 points – going 8-for-13 from the floor and 4-of-6 from the stripe. Jamison banged knees with Brandon Bass early in the game and was forced from action. But he returned in the second period to score 15 of his 21 in the final three quarters.
Daniel Gibson followed up with 15 points on 4-for-8 shooting and Mo Williams joined Varejao to notch 14 points on the night. Williams came into Tuesday’s matchup playing his best ball of the season, but after scoring all 14 of his points in the first period, finished just 1-for-6 from long distance and committed six of Cleveland’s 19 turnovers.
"Tonight I felt like with the way they were shooting, at some point they were going to start missing them and we were going to start making them and then we would win this game," said Gibson. "But they continued to make shots and that’s what the good teams do."
Ramon Sessions came off Byron Scott’s bench to round out the Cavaliers in double-figures with 12, adding six assists and three boards.
Orlando shot 51 percent from the floor, including 61 percent (19-of-31) from beyond the arc. The Cavaliers shot just 70 percent from the stripe and committed an uncharacteristic 19 turnovers.
Following Tuesday’s defeat at The Q, the Cavaliers boarded the big bird for Charlotte, where they’ll take on the Bobcats in the second half of a back-to-back on Wednesday night.
2. The newest Cavalier, Alonzo Gee – signed as a free agent earlier on Tuesday – was in uniform but didn’t see action against Orlando. The former Alabama star (and former D-League rookie of the year) played five games with San Antonio and 11 games with Washington this season before inking a deal to join Cleveland.
3. The Cavaliers made room for Gee by waiving Cleveland native, Jawad Williams, on Monday afternoon. In 26 games, Williams averaged 4.0 points on .325 shooting. Cleveland also sent rookie forward, Samardo Samuels, to the D-League’s Erie BayHawks on Monday.
4. Mo Williams’ string of five straight double-doubles was snapped on Wednesday night, but Mo still managed to lead Cleveland with eight assists. Williams is still averaging 17.6 points and 10.5 assists over his last seven games.
5. Anderson Varejao finished with a career-high five steals in Tuesday’s loss at The Q.
6. Daniel Gibson returned to the Cavaliers lineup after missing Saturday’s loss to Minnesota with a stomach virus. Gibson notched 15 points on Wednesday and has now scored double-figures in all but two contests in December.
7. The Cavaliers will take on former coach Paul Silas on Wednesday night in Charlotte. On Tuesday, they faced the assistant who took over for him in the final 18 games of 2004-05, Brendan Malone – also the father of former Cavaliers assistant, Mike Malone.
8. Anderson Varejao came into Wednesday’s affair as the league’s 8th-ranked rebounder at 9.7 boards per contest.
9. Mo Williams hasn’t missed a free throw since Dec. 17, and even then, he went 5-for-6 from the stripe against Indy.
10. Browns standout rookie defensive backs, Joe Haden and T.J. Ward took in Wednesday’s contest at center court. It was at least the third Cavs game Haden’s attended this year.
Joe Gabriele is the official beat writer for the Cleveland Cavaliers on Cavs.com. You can follow Joe and send him your questions on Twitter at @CavsJoeG.