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Magic 100, Cavaliers 84: Daniel Orton Impresses as Injury-Plagued Orlando Clinches Playoff Spot

Mandatory Credit: David Richard-US PRESSWIRE
Mandatory Credit: David Richard-US PRESSWIRE

Despite losing yet another starter in Glen Davis to injury in the first quarter, the Orlando Magic had five players in double figures, led by Jameer Nelson's 21 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists, to pick up the slack as the Magic officially clinched a playoff spot in their 100-84 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. With starters Dwight Howard and Hedo Turkoglu out indefinitely, the last thing the Magic needed was another injury to a key player. That's exactly what happened, though, in the first quarter as Davis sprained his knee after it appeared he bumped his knee against the knee of a Cavaliers' player on the offensive end as Davis was going up for a shot. He was down in pain for several minutes and then slowly walked to the locker room accompanied by Magic trainers.

Magic coach Stan Van Gundy was forced to play seldom-used rookie center Daniel Orton in place of Davis. Orton responded with by far the best game of his career with an impressive stat line of 11 points on 3 of 4 shooting, 4 rebounds, 5 steals, and 3 blocks in 29 minutes of action. Orton became only the sixth player in Magic franchise history to have at least 5 steals and 3 blocks in a game, and the first to do so in less than 30 minutes of action.

The Magic were able to take advantage of a Cavaliers' team that was playing without impressive rookie point guard Kyrie Irving and also without power forward Anderson Varajao. The Magic were able to execute the pick-and-roll effectively and also were able to drive to the hoop effectively, as they outshot Cleveland 45.6% to 37.3%. The Magic also took uncharacteristically good care of the ball, committing just 6 turnovers, which ties for the second-lowest total of the season. The Magic had a briliant 25/6 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Team Pace Efficiency eFG% FT Rate OReb% TO Rate
Magic 87.8 113.9 52.5% 21.6 17.1 6.8
Cavaliers 87.8 95.7 41.3% 29.3 28.9 20.5
Green denotes a stat better than the team's season average;
red denotes a stat worse than the team's season average.
The Magic led from the get-go in this game. It was 15-7 Magic when Davis was injured with 4:52 remaining in the first quarter. Davis, who has been playing well starting in place of Howard, already had 6 points and 2 rebounds before his injury. Orton came in and showed off his quick hands less than a minute later as he came from behind to swipe the ball out of a Cavaliers' player's hand and then passed the ball to J.J. Redick who pulled up for a trey to make the score 18-8. The Magic led at the end of one quarter 23-15, with Cleveland shooting just 4 of 15.

The Magic increased their lead in the second quarter to as much as 43-23 before Cleveland scored the final seven points of the half to make the halftime score 43-30 Orlando. Magic reserve forward Earl Clark scored 6 second-quarter points. Even though the Magic shot a poor 38.6% in the half, the Cavs were even worse, shooting a paltry 28.9%, as the Cavs' starting five combined to shoot 6 of 24 for 17 points. The Magic took excellent control of the ball with just two first-half turnovers.

Cleveland briefly got to within single digits at 46-38 with 9:27 remaining in the third quarter after an Alonzo Gee jumper, but a Ryan Anderson three-pointer shortly thereafter got the Magic back their double-digit lead for the rest of the game. Nelson scored 9 third-quarter points and Jason Richardson 6 points as the Magic led comfortably 74-60 going into the final frame. The Cavaliers were never able to get closer than 12 points in the final quarter as the Magic cruised to the 100-84 victory.

Magic coach Van Gundy went back to Chris Duhon as the backup point guard. Ish Smith played well in the three games that Duhon missed, but nonetheless did not see any action against Cleveland. Duhon scored 5 points on 2 of 7 shooting along with 2 assists and 0 turnovers in 19 minutes. Whether this is a permanent move or not with Duhon as the main backup to Nelson the rest of the way, we'll have to wait and see. Daniel Orton has probably earned himself more playing time after his nice performance against the Cavaliers, especially with Davis suffering a sprained knee pending further examination.

Other game notes:

-Jason Richardson scored 16 points and Redick 13 points on combined 7 of 15 three-point shooting.

-The Magic reserves had their best contribution in several games, combining for 35 points. In addition to Orton's 11 points, Earl Clark had one of his best career performances, scoring 13 points on perfect 5 of 5 shooting, which included a couple of mid-range jumpers, along with 2 blocks.

-Ryan Anderson, despite scoring just 9 points and continuing to struggle shooting the ball making just 3 of 11 field goals, led the Magic in rebounding with 13 boards.

-Cavaliers' forward Antawn Jamison led the Cavaliers with 21 points and 6 assists, and also grabbed 5 rebounds.