Denton: Magic vs. Cavaliers Analysis (12/13/13)
Still recovering from a 12-day, six-game road trip, the Magic will be back on the road on Saturday when they fly to Oklahoma City to face the Thunder on Sunday. Following a game in Chicago on Monday, Orlando will close 2013 with six straight games at the Amway Center.
At long last, Harris was back on the court Friday night. Harris suffered a high ankle sprain in the preseason, missed five weeks, played one game and then sat out another two-plus weeks because of recurring pain. Harris practiced on Thursday and Friday morning and when he pronounced himself ready for Friday’s game, it gave the Magic their full complement of players for the first time all season.
``(The ankle) feels good now, so that’s a good sign,’’ said Harris, who made three of eight shots. ``I have to do the little things and try to bring a lot of energy to help my teammates out. I have to try to make plays. It’s going to take some time, but tonight was a good step in the right direction for me getting back out there. I wish we would have won the game, but you live and learn. So we’ll move on to the next one.’’
Orlando took a 76-73 lead into the fourth quarter, in large part, because of the dazzling play of Oladipo just after halftime. He made all five of his shots in the third quarter to pace the Magic offense. And while he struggled to slow down Irving, Oladipo did have a spectacular block of an Andrew Bynum layup in the third period.
``I was trying to pick my spots and learn when to be aggressive and when not to be,’’ Oladipo said. ``I felt that I could have been a little more aggressive in the fourth quarter. Again, that’s something I have to watch. I think I did all right on defense. (Irving) is tough to contain. He;s in attack mode and shoots a lot. I did all right on him, but again there’s stuff that I have to work on.’’
The first half seemed like a promising one as the Magic opened the game by forcing turnovers and routinely converting to blow out to a big lead. But the Magic’s hot start cooled off in the second period and Cleveland got back within 51-50 of Orlando by halftime.
Orlando made nine of their first 13 shots and led 23-12 just seven minutes into the game. The Magic eventually pushed its lead to as much as 14 points early on before Irving got Cleveland back into the game. Irving scored 16 first-half points, while the Magic missed 20 of their last 29 shots of the second quarter.
Facing off against No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett, Oladipo did a little bit of everything in the first half. He accidentally banked in his first 3-point shot of the game and finished the first half with 10 points, three rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Orlando had a season-high 25 fast-break points, but 19 of those came in the first half when the Magic seemingly were on the verge of blowing out the Cavs several times. In the end, the Magic were left to come up with answers for a loss that felt like it should have been a win.
``I didn’t think we went into the post a lot and there are going to be nights like that. But we still had a 14-point lead and let it get away,’’ Davis said. ``We have to keep in mind that we still have to play the game the right way and make sure we play on both sides of the ball.’’
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