Finishing off their six-game preseason slate, the Orlando Magic welcomed the LeBron James-less Cleveland Cavaliers to the Amway Center. The Magic showed a lot of positive signs, despite falling to the Cavaliers, 113-106.
Early on, the Magic showed a frenetic pace offensively, pushing the ball up the court on both makes a misses. Elfrid Payton, who thrived in the second half of last season with the Magic playing at a higher pace, showed solid decision making on the break, something that’s been up-and-down for him in his early career. While the Magic’s speed offensively helped them get good looks, especially from beyond the arc, their defense struggled, getting strung out by Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade on seemingly every possession. Despite knocking down five of their nine attempts from beyond the arc, the struggles on the defensive end found the Magic down by one, 31-30 after 12 minutes.
Turning to their bench, the Magic saw struggles that have plagued them previously continue. With little true offensive options off the bench, the Magic struggled to get anything going offensively, and struggled with the Cavaliers spacing defensively, seeing their deficit grow to as many as seven. A pair of jumpers from Bismack Biyombo, then a return by the starters saw the lead trickle back down just three before the Cavaliers pushed it back up to seven. However, behind an accelerated pace, and high flying alley-oops from Aaron Gordon and Jonathon Simmons, the Magic finished the quarter on a 13-3 run to take a three-point halftime lead, up 57-54.
Out of halftime, the Cavaliers didn’t bring any of their starters back out, turning to their bench for the second half. The Magic, however, couldn’t capitalize, struggling to slow down the Cavaliers reserves and get anything going consistently for themselves. After a three-pointer from Evan Fournier put the Magic up eight, Cleveland answered with an 18-2 run to take an eight point lead of their own before the Magic finally settled in some again. Jose Calderon knocked down two late three-pointers to push the Cavaliers to their biggest lead of the game, 90-80 after three.
Trailing by 10, and in their final preseason game, their wasn’t much for either team to play for in the final 12 minutes. Both teams went deep into their benches to get players some time, resting their key rotational players and keeping them from injury. The back end of the Magic bench made a push, but came up short, falling to the Cavaliers to finish the preseason 3-3.
Three Cavaliers finished in double figures, led by Calderon’s 18. Wade added 15 in the first quarter, with Kyle Korver scoring 11 on the night.
Gordon led all scorers, finishing with 21 for the Magic. Simmons, starting in place of Terrence Ross, finished with 12. Payton, Fournier and Nikola Vucevic all added 11 on the night.