By John Denton
February 8, 2013
CLEVELAND -- Finally closer to being whole once again with the return of Arron Afflalo, the Orlando Magic’s offense proved to be much more on point Friday night. But while the shooting and ball movement were dramatically better, too many turnovers and too many fouls defensively doomed an otherwise strong performance.
Orlando turned the ball over 19 times and put Cleveland on the free throw line 41 times Friday night, ruining career-best performances from Nikola Vucevic and Andrew Nicholson in a 119-108 loss to the Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena.
The Magic (14-36) shot a stellar 52.3 percent, hit eight 3-pointers and had three players score at least 20 points. But even their best offensive output in weeks couldn’t overcome the turnover and fouling issues.
``We just have to be better with the fundamentals, even myself because I had five (fouls) today,’’ Nicholson said. ``I have to get there earlier on defense and not reach in as a big guy (on defense).’’
The Magic have long tormented the Cavaliers (16-34), beating them in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2009 and winning 10 straight regular games against the Cavs dating back to Feb. 11, 2010. But that streak ended Friday night, while Orlando’s losing streak this season extended to 12 games in a row.
In control of the game for much of the first three quarters, the Magic fell apart in the final 3:18 of the third period and throughout the fourth quarter. A 78-75 Magic lead inexplicably turned into a 10-point deficit early in the fourth quarter. Orlando made a couple of pushes at the lead, but couldn’t overtake all-star point guard Kyrie Irving (24 points, eight assists and six rebounds) and the much-improved Cavs.
Cleveland turned 19 Magic turnovers into 22 points. And the Magic did themselves no favors by sending the Cavaliers to the free throw line 41 times, where they made 34. Reserve power forward Maurice Speights made 12 of 12 free throws to nearly eclipse the Magic’s free throw attempts (10 of 13).
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