Overview: With LeBron James resting, the Cavaliers failed to hold onto a first-half lead against the Orlando Magic, losing by a final score of 92-98. Dwight Howard led all scorers with 22 points, and Delonte West led the Cavaliers with 21 points off the bench.
The key to the offense in the first half was the Cavs finding Antawn Jamison down low and letting him go to work. Jamison had 15 of his 19 points in the first half, and hit only one of his five jumpers over the course of the game. In terms of a potential playoff with matchup with the Magic, it will be key to utilize Jamison’s skills in the post. If he can score posting up opposing fours and threes, it will be a way for the Cavs to get points without having to deal with Dwight Howard’s ability to defend the paint.
-The best news for the Cavs in this game is how aggressive Mo Williams and Delonte West were. Mo had a hard time finishing in the paint against the Magic (which is to be expected), but was aggressive all game, attacking off the dribble and looking confident pulling up for deep jumpers in the half-court.
-Delonte was also on his game. He looked great when he utilized his mid-range game, and was looking to push the ball and find his teammates all night long.
-The Magic had nine players record an assist. The Cavs had three players record an assist. That’s not a winning formula.
-Yes, I think Mike Brown was a bit quick to wave the proverbial white flag in the fourth. I get not giving the Magic the satisfaction of knowing they beat any semblance of a 100% Cavs team, but he could have at least pretended he wanted this game. Beating a full-strength Magic team without Shaq or LeBron could have been a huge confidence boost.
-Still not enough defense. There was no way the Cavs were going to stop Howard, but they were way too lax on the perimeter and allowed the Magic a number of easy looks from deep.
-Seven offensive boards for Z: great. Watching a center go 1-6 on jumpers: not as great.
-Jamario hit jumpers on Sunday. When Jamario hits jumpers, he looks really good. I have my doubts about Jamario’s ability to hit open jumpers in pressure situations, but he certainly seems to have played his way into the playoff rotation over the last few games.
-Hickson and Varejao combined to go 3-9. Turns out putting two big men who can’t create their own offense against the league’s best team at defending the paint didn’t work so well.
-No LeBron or Shaq inside + Dwight Howard defending the rim = six blocks for Howard. He’s a monster. He’s one superstar who his coaches know will stay healthy; I’m not sure artillery fire could harm that man.
Bullets of Randomness:
-Delonte West is more talented, but Matt Barnes and Delonte are spiritually very similar.
-Vince Carter is one of those good players who never, ever, seems to play well against the Cavs. I don’t know why that is, but I’m not complaining.
-Of course Michael Pietrus would end up providing a huge fourth-quarter boost. Trying to figure that guy out is a losing proposition. Anyone else notice Pietrus do the “gooseneck” after hitting a three in the fourth? I don’t think it was malicious, if only because I can’t imagine Pietrus being deliberately malicious. (UPDATE: According to Ben Q. Rock, MP was doing a “salute,” which is a thing he does.)
-Alright, that’s all I have for tonight. Last game of the regular season on Wednesday. Bring on the playoffs already.