Postgame Report: Magic vs. Cavaliers (4/2/14)

Victor Oladipo

By John Denton
April 2, 2014

ORLANDO – Head coach Mike Brown, a veteran of two rebuilds in Cleveland with the Cavaliers, knows a thing or two about what the Orlando Magic are painfully enduring as they wade through the highs and lows of a trying transition period.

``It takes patience from everybody because it’s not always going to be pretty,’’ Brown said of Cleveland’s rebuild, but he could have just as easily been talking about the Magic.

It was certainly anything but pretty on Wednesday night as the Magic bottomed out on both ends of the floor and got thrashed by a Cleveland team desperately trying to make the playoffs for the first time in four seasons.

Orlando got flogged in a listless 70-point first half and never was able to make much of a run in the second half because of 17 turnovers in a forgettable 119-98 loss to the Cavaliers.

``Terrible, terrible. It’s self explanatory and this is not how we want to play,’’ forward Tobias Harris said of the Magic shockingly getting outscored 64-32 in the paint. ``That just shows no effort.’’ Orlando (21-54) has been solid at the Amway Center this season, but Wednesday’s performance left a lot to be desired offensively and defensively. The Magic yielded a season-worst 70 points in the first two quarters and couldn’t sustain a stretch of good play after briefly pulling within 17 points late in the third quarter. Orlando led by five points in the opening minutes, but never threatened Cleveland over the final 41 minutes of the game.

``Everyone, when you go to work every day, you take pride in what you do. I believe in the men in our locker room do take pride in what they do. But some days it’s not your day,’’ Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. ``Over the course of an 82-game season this happens. I’ll continue to push these guys and want the most and best out of them.

``But am I embarrassed for them tonight? No, I’m proud to be their coach,’’ Vaughn continued. ``We’ll get back at it and talk about it when we get to Charlotte and have shoot around and we’ll be ready to play again.’’

Cleveland (31-45) stayed in the chase for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference by producing two 35-point quarters and scoring 94 points in three quarters. Three Cleveland players – Dion Waiters, Spencer Hawes and Tristan Thompson – had at least 20 points in the first three quarters of work. The Cavs also saw the return of all-star guard Kyrie Irving, who had 17 points and eight assists in just 29 minutes of work.

It was the first time in nearly three months that the Magic have lost a game by more than 20 points. They have had a knack of falling into big holes and rallying, but there was no such comeback on Wednesday.

``They shot the ball well, got into the paint and moved the ball really well,’’ Magic guard Arron Afflalo said. ``It felt like we were in scramble mode a lot defensively. They are playing well as a team right now and I hope for continued success for them.’’

Rookie Victor Oladipo led the Magic with 16 points, but it was hardly a vintage night for the dynamic guard. Reserve Doron Lamb hit three 3-pointers and scored 14 points.

Maurice Harkless was the only Magic starter to hit double digits, scoring 10 points and hitting two 3-pointers. Orlando’s starting five of Jameer Nelson (nine points), Afflalo (seven points), Nikola Vucevic (seven points), Kyle O’Quinn (eight points) and Harkless combined to shoot 16 of 41 (39 percent).

Vucevic, the reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week, missed eight of his 11 shots and grabbed just seven rebounds. He came into the game averaging 22.7 points and 14.3 rebounds over the last three games, but he was a nonfactor most of the night as Cleveland trapped him repeatedly on the post.

The one bright spot in the game came in the third quarter when the Magic inexplicably came alive after falling into a 82-56 hole. Orlando scored nine straight points as Cleveland was missing seven consecutive shots to get within 82-65. But the run would prove to be short-lived as the Magic suffered a rash of turnovers that allowed Cleveland to quickly put the difference back up to 25 points.

The Magic will be off on Thursday before playing in Charlotte on Friday night. One of the Magic’s four road wins this season came in Charlotte on Dec. 11 (92-83). Orlando will be back at the Amway Center on Friday night to face the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The first half proved to be the Magic’s worst nightmare as the Cavs used their guards to attack the paint and big man Spencer Hawes to drill shots from the outside. As a result, Cleveland led 70-47 at the break and the 70 points were the most allowed by the Magic in any half this season. It eclipsed the 69 points allowed by the Magic in the first half in Denver on Jan. 11.

``Our defense is set up to stop the guard from penetrating and getting to the lane and if he kicks it back to the big, it’s on us to get back out to him. But they were hitting and it was in (Hawes’) favor,’’ Harris said. ``There wasn’t a lot we could do.’’