Not many teams did a better job defensively against the Cleveland Cavaliers last season than the Orlando Magic. Like most teams, however, it doesn't mean they were able to stop LeBron James.
The Magic look to continue their success on defense against the Cavaliers as the teams open their season series Wednesday night.
Orlando went 2-1 against defending Eastern Conference champion Cleveland last season, holding the Cavaliers to 79.7 points per game and 38.5 percent shooting from the field.
It was Cleveland's lowest scoring average against any team it played three or more games against. The Cavaliers averaged 77.0 points in two games against Houston.
James, though, had a strong set of games against the Magic, averaging 26.3 points and shooting 52.7 percent. He is right around his career average with 26.1 points per game in 14 career outings against Orlando.
James' teammates, meanwhile, combined to shoot 34.0 percent (61-for-179) from the field against the Magic last season. This is the first of four meetings between the teams in 2007-08.
Orlando (6-2) has hardly been a superior defensive team this season - allowing 95.5 points per game - but is coming off its best effort, beating Seattle 103-76 on Tuesday night. The Southeast Division-leading Magic yielded over 100 points in each of their previous two contests before holding the SuperSonics to 34.4 percent shooting.
The strong defense helped Orlando overcome 26 turnovers. The Magic entered the game averaging 13.1 turnovers, second in the league, but committed 16 in the first half alone.
Orlando averaged just 15.0 turnovers against Cleveland last season.
Rashard Lewis rebounded from a season-low seven points in a loss to Phoenix on Saturday, scoring 22 points against his former teammates on Seattle. The veteran forward has scored 20 points or more in six of eight games to rank second on the team with 20.6 per game.
Lewis now faces a Cleveland team that has struggled on defense after finishing fifth in the league in that category last season. The Cavaliers (4-4) have allowed 102.0 points per game, and a 122-100 loss to Denver on Monday night was the most points they have surrendered since allowing 120 to Philadelphia on Nov. 19, 2005.
Cleveland is coming off a 3-3 road trip, playing on consecutive days twice in that span.
"It was a tough schedule," James said. "It's not much of an excuse. ... Now we can go home."
James went 9-for-16 from the field and had a team-high 27 points Monday, but his teammates combined to shoot 38.5 percent (27-for-70). He is averaging 29.0 points in seven games since being held to 10 against Dallas in the Cavaliers' season opener.
Cavaliers center Zydrunas Ilgauskas, second on the team with 15.6 points per game, had a season-low two against the Nuggets. He was held under 10 points in both of the Cavaliers' losses to the Magic in 2006-07.
Cleveland was lacking some depth against the Nuggets, with swingman Sasha Pavlovic sitting out with back spasms. His status for Wednesday's game is uncertain.
The Cavaliers also hope to have guard Larry Hughes for a full game Wednesday. He thought he was fouled on a missed 3-pointer in the first half Monday, and was given two technical fouls and ejected by referee Bill Spooner.
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