Cohen Courtside: Magic vs. Cavaliers (2/3/12)

By Josh Cohen
February 3, 2012

In Cohen Courtside, Josh Cohen examines the state of the Orlando Magic after games this season. He will tackle sidebar storylines and focus on topics that stretch far beyond the box score. There will also be some analysis on league-wide subjects.


ORLANDO -- Friday night was a refresher of sorts.

After an uninspiring week-and-a-half of basketball, the Orlando Magic delivered a performance that helped fans remember how good they can be.

Maybe this should have been expected in this truncated, unyielding season.

In one week, a team can suffer from abnormal scoring scarcity and unforeseen collapses.

In the following week, the same team can look championship worthy.

All the frenetic traveling, the deficiency of practice and the time limitations to prepare for upcoming opponents disallow teams from being unswerving in their performance.

On this night against the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Magic played with the right attitude and the right energy.

In spite of Cleveland's valiant comeback late in the game, Dwight Howard's critical free throws and another essential outside jumper from Hedo Turkoglu in the final two minutes secured Orlando's seventh straight triumph against their familiar foes from Ohio.

"It was huge," Chris Duhon said about Howard's foul shooting. "He takes a lot of time to shoot them and we just keep continuing to encourage him. A lot of teams are going to do that down the stretch (Hack-a-Howard) so we are going to continue to believe that he's going to make them every time he's up there."

And most impressive, perhaps, everyone who played contributed. From Howard’s defensive intimidation (eight blocks) to Orlando’s balanced scoring attack to protecting the ball (five turnovers), it was hard to find things the Magic didn’t do well.

Even Ish Smith, who made his Magic debut, enjoyed a solid outing. Along with Chris Duhon, Smith helped limit rookie sensation Kyrie Irving to just 7-of-21 shooting. He also dished out some spectacular assists, including one that resulted in a breathtaking jam by Von Wafer in the fourth quarter.

Not allowing the absences of Jameer Nelson (concussion) and Glen Davis (suspension) to hinder their play, backend reserves such as Wafer and Earl Clark really stepped up to alleviate some of the pressure from the starters.

After Monday’s loss in Philadelphia, you figured the Magic’s next two games against Washington and Cleveland were the perfect opportunity to restore confidence against more inferior opponents.

Mission accomplished.

Now, it’s back to a grueling schedule complete with challenging adversaries over the next week, including the Pacers, Clippers, Heat and Hawks.

It’s impractical to predict what will transpire during this stretch. Fortunately for the Magic, though, is that three of these four contests will be at Amway Center.

The first, however, will be a trip to the home of the Super Bowl, Indianapolis, and it will be an exhausting journey considering the Magic have to stay in Kentucky before flying slightly west to clash with the scorching Pacers.

"We are coming in on a back-to-back with a crazy travel schedule, but we just got to come out there with some energy and rely on everybody to help us out tomorrow," said Jason Richardson, who returned from a two-game absence and posted 19 points in Friday's win."

Especially after such a splendid effort on Friday, you can be certain the crowd will be as loud as ever. It will be up to the Magic to utilize that energy and stock up on some more W’s.

What did you think of Ish Smith in his Magic debut on Friday?
What did you think of Ish Smith in his Magic debut on Friday?
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