Cavs Can't Rally Past Magic

Kyrie Irving soars for two of his 18 points on Friday.
Fernando Medina
NBAE.Getty Images
In the home of Universal Studios, the Cavaliers saw a movie they’ve seen far too frequently.

It features the Magic hitting big three-pointers, Dwight Howard hitting big free throws and, more recently, a furious fourth-quarter comeback that falls just short for the good guys.

Friday night’s affair in Orlando had all three elements, and the Cavaliers dropped their seventh straight to the Magic, 102-94.

The Cavaliers trailed by 11 at intermission and as many as 21 in the second half. But to its credit, Cleveland mounted another fourth-quarter rally, cutting Orlando’s lead to just five with 1:48 to play. But Hedo Turkoglu canned a jumper and Dwight Howard hit three of his final four free throws to ice the win.

“I don’t know what we have to do as far as trying to bring that same rhythm that we had in the fourth quarter to the first quarter, but we’ll figure it out,” said Coach Byron Scott.

After scoring just 16 points in the third quarter (and 17 in the first), the Cavaliers netted 41 in the fourth – 13 of which were scored by Alonzo Gee, who finished with a career-high 20 points in the loss.

Kryie Irving followed up with 18 points, six assists and four boards and his backup, Ramon Sessions, tallied 14 points, eight assists and six boards.

“I wish we could have put the first three quarters together like we did the fourth,” lamented Irving, the reigning Rookie of the Month. “We couldn’t throw the ball in the ocean for the first three quarters.”

Anderson Varejao and Antawn Jamsion both doubled-up for the Cavaliers. Jamison finished with 16 points and 12 boards while the Wild Thing continued his All-Star-sized season, tallying 12 points and 15 boards against the three-time Defensive Player of the year.

“This is just the learning process of what we are going through,” said Jamison. “We have to do a better job of starting games.”

Howard had 19 points and 16 rebounds for the Magic, but Jason Richardson’s 19 seemed more painful – going 3-for-4 from beyond the arc and 7-of-12 overall.

Despite Howard’s presence, the Cavs still out-rebounded Orlando by a dozen and outscored them in the paint, 46-36. But, as has been the case for a solid week, a sluggish start doomed their overall effort.

It doesn’t get easier for the Wine and Gold, which returns home to face Dirk Nowitzki and the World Champion Mavericks on Saturday night at The Q.

  • Alonzo Gee’s stock continues to rise. Over the last three games, Gee is averaging 15.0 points per – shooting 52 percent from the floor, 50 percent from long-distance and 83 from the stripe.

  • The short-handed Cavaliers went into Friday’s game without the services of Boobie Gibson, still out with a soft tissue infection in his neck, Anthony Parker with a strained low back and Tristan Thompson, who’s still nursing a left ankle sprain.

  • With Parker and Gibson out, Mychel Thompson got his second career start. Unfortunately, the rookie from Pepperdine took the collar – going 0-for-6 from the floor, including a trio of three-point attempts.

  • Though neither of the Cavaliers’ “Thompson rookies” – Mychel or Tristan – got in the books on Friday, the Cavaliers still lead the league in rookie contributions – with Cleveland’s freshman triumvirate accounting for 26.8 percent of all its scoring on the season.

  • Kyrie Irving is naturally the biggest reason for that statistic and he is poised to become just the fourth Cavalier – joining LeBron James, Ron Harper and Austin Carr – to lead the team in scoring in their first season. Harper had the highest first-season average at 22.9 ppg.

  • Speaking of Austin Carr – big congratulations are in order for Mr. Cavalier, Austin Carr, who took home the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission on Thursday night. From the work he did on the court to the great person he is off of it – nobody is more deserving of the award.