Orlando Magic beat Cleveland Cavaliers for first time in three tries this season
Brian Schmitz recaps an instant classic between the Orlando Magic and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
[...] everything about the Magic's 101-95 victory on Sunday against the Cavs smacked of the postseason. Officials allowed rough play, stars played like stars on national TV and the drama cracked through a sell-out crowd at Amway Arena.
It was if everyone was ready to skip to the good stuff. LeBron James, of all people, even complained that the refs were not treating him like a rare Ming vase. "Playoff-style basketball," Vince Carter called it. [...]
The teams left you wanting more, but you likely must wait until late May for a postseason rematch. This could have been the last time in the regular season that the teams — now fully loaded, with the Cavs displaying newcomer Antawn Jamison (19 points) — will face each other at such a fever pitch.
The Magic don't face the Cavs again until April 11. No telling who will be rested with three games left for Orlando and two for Cleveland.
Magic might be labeled as soft, but they show some muscle against Cavaliers
George Diaz notes that if the Cavaliers want to make it to the NBA Finals, it'll have to take the Eastern Conference title from the Magic.
Sure it's only one in the long grind of an 82-game regular season, but the Magic needed this one to get their mojo back against the Cavs. They had lost the first two games against Cleveland this season, and were now facing an amped-up lineup that included All-Star Antwan Jamison.
And so with a playoff vibe in the air _ as well as a few flying elbows _ the Magic gave the Cavs a forget-me-not-loss, a competitive reminder that the Eastern Conference banner still hangs at Amway Arena.
Cleveland is going to have to rip it from these guys.
More after the jump.
Orlando Magic notebook: Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy says Rashard Lewis and Vince Carter could see their playing time increase and could play more with the second unit
Josh Robbins states that head coach Stan Van Gundy may insert Vince Carter or Rashard Lewis in with the second unit a bit more.
Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy acknowledged Sunday that he might play Lewis and Carter more often with the Orlando Magic's second unit. Van Gundy thinks the second unit's halfcourt offense occasionally bogs down and, therefore, would benefit from having Lewis or Carter on the floor.
"When you get caught in the halfcourt sometimes we're out there with not anybody to really go to, and if we're not getting great, great ball movement, it gets tough," Van Gundy said. "But I don't want to overstate it either. I don't know that we'll necessarily worry about it all the time. That group's been very effective."
Dwight Howard and Shaquille O’Neal appear to have reached a détente in their budding rivalry
Dwight Howard and Shaquille O'Neal show respect for each other.
The latest chapter in the rivalry between Dwight Howard and Shaquille O'Neal started with a snub but ended with a hug and conciliatory words. [...]
"I really consider him a big man: myself, him and Yao," O'Neal said. "I'm sure he doesn't mind the physicality. I [darn] sure don't mind it. So, two big, strong guys — old bull, young bull — going at it? A fun game to watch." [...]
In the visitors' locker room afterward, O'Neal insisted that he isn't upset that Howard is called "Superman," which had been one of O'Neal's nicknames.
"It never really bothered me," O'Neal said. "When I'm done playing, I want to have four, five or six [championships]. That's really my focus. I'm not really worrying about useless titles. I want to have four, five or six balls on my desk looking at the Butler Chain of Lakes."
But O'Neal said he wouldn't give Howard advice on how to become a better basketball player — at least not until O'Neal retires.
" Microsoft doesn't give advice to Apple." O'Neal said. "So when I retire from Microsoft then maybe I'll consult with Apple. But right now? No."
LeBron James scores 33 points as Cleveland Cavaliers lose to Orlando Magic, 101-95
Tania Ganguli looks at LeBron James' performance in yesterday's game.
Cavaliers find some positives (and a few negatives) in absorbing 101-95 loss to Orlando
Brian Windhorst of The Plain Dealer takes a half-empty, half-full approach at examining the Cavaliers' loss to the Magic.
Jamison shows his value, but Cavaliers need refresher course in defense: Terry Pluto's scribbles
Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer reveals some notes he jotted down while watching Cleveland and Orlando face off against each other.
Brace for round two; a playoff series with Magic would be classic (again)
If the Magic and the Cavaliers meet in the 2010 Eastern Conference Finals for a second consecutive year, it has the chance to be another classic series.
The Celtics promise to be an extreme challenge, but there's a good chance that it will come down to Cavs-Magic in the conference finals.
If the Cavs are going to win a series like that, they are going to have to play a little better defense than they got in the last two meetings (Magic averaged 103.5 points) and they need a little more offense than they showed in this loss. Orlando has such offensive talent -- they shot 50 percent and scored 100 points and got nothing from Vince Carter until the last six minutes -- that the Cavs are going to have to score a bit to beat them. Even playing good defense against the Magic isn't always good enough, it is hard to beat them 90-89. It is always going to more likely be 102-101.
Denton: Magic-Cavaliers Postgame Analysis Part II
John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com provides some post-game quotes.
Van Gundy praised the Cavs for having the NBA's best record so far and they are five games ahead of the Magic in the standings even after this three-game losing streak. But Van Gundy agreed that there's a perception out there that it's Orlando chasing Cleveland rather than it actually being the other way around. After all, Orlando beat Cleveland in the playoffs and got to The Finals.
``Most people know that we beat them, but I think some people consider it a fluke,'' Van Gundy said. ``I don't even know what that word (fluke) means. It wasn't a one-game thing. When you beat a team in a playoff series, I don't think there are any flukes out there.''
Denton: Magic-Cavaliers Notes
More on Van Gundy's decision to play the starters more.
``My first two years here we've usually had two or three guys in the top 30 in the league in minutes, but none this year,'' Van Gundy said. ``We've tried to limit the minutes of some of our guys, but we're to the point now where we've got to increase them. Dwight can pretty much handle whatever minutes we need from him, but we're going to have to go up with Rashard and Vince. Our second unit has been good, but sometimes they've been out there with nobody to go to.''
1. Carter, Magic Handle Struggling Cavs
John Hollinger of ESPN.com analyzes Orlando's win.
It's amazing how much perception can change in half a week.
Coming out of the trading deadline, the Eastern Conference playoffs shaped up as the Cleveland Invitational. With the Cavaliers' acquisition of Antawn Jamison, it seemed nobody could hope to topple a Cleveland team that was already running away from the rest of the East.
But after Sunday's 101-95 loss to the Cavs' rivals from Orlando -- and make no mistake, this has become one of basketball's biggest and baddest rivalries -- all those assumptions must be called into question.
Recap: Magic 101, Cavs 95 (Or, The Time The Cavs Lost Three Games In a Row)
John Krolik of Cavs: The Blog examines the matchup between Howard and O'Neal.
While Shaq might’ve gotten the better of Dwight one-on-one, Dwight played like he had something to prove the entire game. Dwight Howard is a cat-quick 265-pound man. A pissed-off Dwight Howard is a bad thing to be facing, especially when you’ve just traded a center.
Dwight played 44 minutes, snatched 16 rebounds, blocked four shots, drew nine fouls, and generally looked like he was ready to eat a car. He’s getting more skilled, too. He looks really comfortable going to his left from the right block, and made some nice passes for Magic buckets when the Cavs started (ahem, Shaq) doubling Howard in the fourth quarter. Although I might leave that 15-foot banker at home if I were Dwight.
Superman Battle Won't Be Settled Until Playoffs
Tim Povtak looks at the battle between the big men, too.
Jamison Proves Worth for Cavs in Loss
Antawn Jamison likes playing for Cleveland and explains why.
"This is going to be great for me. It's been four years since I've had open jumpers like this, no double teams, able to go one-on- one,'' Jamison said. "It's almost scary what can happen playing alongside guys like this (LeBron James, Shaquille O'Neal). It's going to make the game so much easier.''
Shaquille O'Neal vs. Dwight Howard part 3 produced the best show yet
Orlando and Cleveland, a budding rivalry.
Baseline to Baseline, your game recaps
Matt Moore of ProBasketballTalk thinks that Jameer Nelson is the player who determines how good the Magic can be. A sentiment I agree with, by the way.
Jameer Nelson tends to be the lightning rod in the Magic's time-traveling Delorean. If he's hot, this team is at another level. When he's off, they look tremendously pedestrian. With Turkoglu gone and Vince Carter more of a ball-dominator, the point guard position for Orlando is vital to create motion in the half-court offense. Howard and Carter did their damage, but Jameer Nelson had a huge impact in the Magic's win.I've always been of the opinion that it was Nelson's emergence as an All-Star last season that ignited Orlando's 33-8 start and launched the team to an elite level. When Nelson goes, so go the Magic.
A big win against Cleveland!!!
UPDATE: Dwight Howard elaborates on the importance of the win against the Cavaliers.
I really don’t think much that happens in the regular season has a lot to do with the playoffs, but we needed to beat Cleveland because they had gotten us in the first two games. We’re trying get our flow going into the playoffs and we don’t ever want to lose a season series to any team so that made this one even bigger.
We want as good a seed as we can get for the playoffs, but we also kind of wanted to send a message that we can beat Cleveland, too. Ya’ll know we beat them in the playoffs last May, but it’s almost like everybody forgets that. I still feel like we’re the team to beat in the East and when we play our best basketball we can beat any team in the NBA.