Denton: Magic-Cavaliers Postgame Analysis

By John Denton
January 30, 2011


ORLANDO – The Orlando Magic were determined not to be the team that lost to the team with one of the NBA’s most dubious losing streaks in 12 seasons.

The Magic sent the Cleveland Cavaliers to their 20th straight loss on Sunday night by getting a stellar start from franchise center Dwight Howard and a strong closing kick from blossoming forward Ryan Anderson in a 103-87 blowout win at Amway Center.

One year removed from having the best record in the NBA, Cleveland (8-39) incredibly hasn’t won since Dec. 18 and has endured the worst 31-game stretch in NBA history (1-30). The 20 straight losses are a single-season record for Cleveland and it is inching closer to the all-time record for consecutive losses of 24, set by the 1982 Cavs.

``I’ve been on teams like that my first couple of years in the league (in Golden State) where we lost 18 games in a row and all you want to do is get that monkey off your back,’’ said Magic guard Jason Richardson, who had 12 points and three assists. ``You definitely don’t want to be that team that loses to them. We wanted to dominate them from the beginning of the game and just bury them right away.’’

The Cavs were buried under 20 points and 20 rebounds from Howard, who rested the entire fourth quarter. Anderson cleaned up in garbage time of the game, scoring 16 of his game-high 23 points in the fourth quarter. He also had a career-high in rebounds with 16 (nine on the offensive end) and made five 3-pointers. He was more proud of the defensive job he and Brandon Bass (12 points and eight rebounds) did on Cleveland’s Antawn Jamison (two of 11 shooting, seven points).

``Brandon and I had a big challenge guarding Antawn Jamison because he’s a guy who can score 30 on you,’’ Anderson said. ``Any team can beat any team, so we still needed to bring a lot of focus to this game. Games like this show that we still need to do plenty of work and keep improving out defense.’’

Here’s a look back at what went right, what went wrong and some final observations from Sunday’s romp against the historically woeful Cavaliers:

WHAT WENT RIGHT

  • Howard needed just three quarters of work to notch the 30th 20-point, 20-rebound game of his career. It’s the fourth time he’s done that this season and the 24th time in the past four seasons he’s gone for 20/20. The Magic were a plus-27 in Howard’s 26 minutes on the floor Sunday night.

    He’s grabbed at least 20 rebounds in 45 games in his stellar seven-year NBA career.

    He also has 36 double-doubles this season, third-best in the NBA. He has 386 of those double-doubles since 2004, easily the most of any player in the NBA during that time. Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy is very concerned about the hits up around the head and neck that Howard took several times in the game as Cleveland’s big men tried to corral the Magic’s star.

    ``I don’t understand why they’re allowed to hit big guys, not just Dwight, but I just don’t understand in general why they are allowed to hit big guys up around the neck and shoulders and there is nothing done about it,’’ Van Gundy said. ``I’ve talked about it several times, I’ve talked to referees in the games – I don’t know the answer to that. The league has decided those are OK.

    ``My point is always, if Dwight hits somebody that hard around the head, it becomes a thing of size and strength, not what somebody is doing. If Dwight hits somebody as hard as they hit him around the head, he would probably be suspended, because he would lay them out,’’ Van Gundy continued. ``But because he can take the hit and even stay on his feet, they don’t see the result of it and they let it go. And it’s not one or two guys, and it’s not just Dwight, I see it with big guys all the time. It’s just, I don’t know, it is something I wish they would get on. It’s not a matter of fairness in a game, they called the foul. I don’t think it’s fair to those guys, but I’m not in charge and they’re not really interested in my opinion.’’

  • The Magic recorded their 100th consecutive home sellout Sunday night, a mark that hasn’t been reached since the infancy of the franchise and during the early 1990s heyday.

    The Magic haven’t played before a less-than-capacity crowd at home since the 2008-09 season. They have sold out the past 81 regular-season games and 19 playoff games to hit the 100 mark.

  • The Magic took care of business in the first half, pounding the ball inside to Howard to snuff out any hope the Cavs might have had of pulling off the upset and ending their monstrous losing streak.

    With no true center to guard him, Howard smashed the Cavs for 16 points and 14 rebounds in the first half. He basically did as he pleased inside against the smallish Cavs, making eight of 10 shots and also grabbing three offensive boards. Howard had four dunks in the first 24 minutes, three of them coming on lobs because Cleveland had no size or muscle inside to combat him.

  • WHAT WENT WRONG

  • This injury might bear keeping an eye on – Hedo Turkoglu gingerly walked out of the Magic locker room Sunday night complaining of lower back pain. The soreness has bothered Turkoglu for the past week and it’s clearly affecting his aggressiveness off pick-and-roll sets.

    Turkoglu made just four of 11 shots on Sunday, scoring nine points to go with six rebounds and six assists. But he had another five turnovers when lob passes to Howard and dish offs to cutters went astray.

    In his past four games, Turkoglu has made just 15 of 41 shots while turning the ball over 11 times.

    ``He’s not playing very well right now on the offensive end. He did make some good passes late, but he made some careless ones. His energy needs to be better and he needs to get on it,’’ Van Gundy said of Turkoglu, whom the Magic traded for back on Dec. 18. I think that when he first came he was excited to be back, excited to be playing more minutes and excited to have the ball in his hands more, and he’s sort of dropped off a little bit. He’ll come back because he’s a good player. He’s got to get back on it and play better.’’

  • FINAL OBSERVATIONS

  • Magic reserve point guard Gilbert Arenas was unavailable Sunday night after suffering a bruise on his knee cap following a hard hit by Bulls center Kurt Thomas Friday night in Chicago. It’s the same knee that Arenas has needed three surgeries on in years past and has bothered him ever since.

    Arenas has said that weather and the pressure from airline flights affects his knee. And he said that he could hardly flex his leg Saturday morning after the flight home from Chicago. Even though Arenas wasn’t available to play, he still had to dress out so that the Magic had 12 available rules.

    ``I couldn’t bend it because the bruise is right on the kneecap,’’ Arenas said. ``I’ll see (about his availability for Monday in Memphis). I don’t know right now.’’

  • Daytona Beach’s Tamari Walker, 16, sat courtside at Sunday night’s game and clutched an autographed Magic basketball throughout the game. Walker is battling neck and spinal cancer and made his first appearance at Amway Center.

    Walker was presented a Magic jersey by Community Relations Ambassador Nick Anderson, a team ball by Brandon Bass and he got an autograph from one of his favorite Magic players, Jameer Nelson.

  • John Denton writes for OrlandoMagic.com. E-mail John at jd41898@aol.com. Submit a question to John for his mailbag segment at AskJD@orlandomagic.com.