By John Denton
February 23, 2013
The Magic were playing with somewhat stacked odds considering that they had played a night earlier in Memphis, while Cleveland had been off since Wednesday. Orlando was not only on the road a night earlier, but three of the starters had to play at least 39 minutes because the team had just seven players available because of injuries and trades.
And factoring in the Magic’s attempts to play three new players who have yet to have a full practice with the team and Saturday night’s results were quite predictable.
``We went from introducing ourselves to trying to put in a few sets to getting out there on the floor. The good thing is those new guys were able to get out there, touch the floor a little bit and get to know their teammates a little bit,’’ Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. ``So that part of it was good.’’
Having just played four games in five nights, the Magic will be off on Sunday and return to the practice floor on Monday. The team will then fly to Philadelphia where it will face the 76ers on Tuesday night. The Magic are back at the Amway Center on Wednesday to host the Sacramento Kings, a game that will cap a stretch of six games in nine nights.
Maurice Speights scored 18 points for the Cavs (18-37), while Alonzo Gee (17 points) took advantage of several dazzling feeds from all-star point guard Kyrie Irving (12 points and nine assists). Cleveland didn’t play any of its starters in the fourth quarter and still scored 39 points. The Cavs pounded the Magic for 18 offensive rebounds and forced 15 turnovers.
The Magic seemed to hit a wall in the third quarter, causing them to struggle offensively and have trouble slowing down the Cavs. After turning the ball over six times in the first quarter and not once in the second quarter, the Magic were again sloppy in the third period with six more miscues. That allowed Cleveland, surprisingly led by Tyler Zeller, pushed its lead to as much as 13 points in the third quarter.
And the Cavaliers’ bulge went to 15 when they scored the first eight points of the fourth quarter, prompting the Magic to call a timeout.
``I think (fatigue) was a small factor, but everyone around the league is accustomed to playing back-to-backs,’’ Jones said. ``It was just a matter of coming in with the right mindset and taking care of business. … We let the other team speed us up and get us out of what we normally do. We knew coming into the game that they would pressure in the backcourt, so we wanted to attack it and relieve that pressure. But we allowed them to speed us up and get us out of our comfort zone.’’
Orlando got off to a rough start, falling behind by as much as 10 points early on before clawing back into the game to get it tied at 51-all by halftime. And they did it by sharing the ball, getting at least six points from eight of the 10 players who got on the court in the first half.
Vaughn wisely used the three newcomers together early in the game to at least give them some form of familiarity on the floor. By the latter stages of the first quarter, Udrih, Harris and Lamb were on the floor together making their Magic debuts.
Udrih, a nine-year NBA vet, wasted no time blending in with his new Magic teammates by pushing the pace and distributing the ball well to to others in the offense. In 11 minutes in the first half in relief of E’Twauan Moore, Udrih scored six points and handed out four assists.
Harris didn’t score in the first half, but he did grab three rebounds and block a shot in the first half.
A disjointed mess early on, the Magic fell behind 24-14. But once they got their turnover issues resolved – they had six turnovers in the first quarter and none in the second – Orlando go back in it and got three electrifying dunks in the first half from rookie forward Jones.
Harris said he looks at the trade to the Magic as one that offers him a new start in the NBA, and he can’t wait to learn more of the system so that he can make his mark in Orlando.
``I was a little down at first because you never expect something like (getting traded), but at the same time I knew the opportunity that would be in place here,’’ Harris said. ``I’ll play wherever coach (Vaughn) wants to put me out there. I’m going to work hard, so I’ll play wherever coach wants me. Today, I played (power forward) and in Milwaukee I played (small forward). So wherever they want me, I’ll adapt to it.’’
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