Recap: Magic 110, Cavs 95 (Or, It’s not Magic. It’s the three-point shot.)

December 28th, 2010 by John Krolik

Overview: The Magic buried the Cavaliers by shooting 19-31 from beyond the arc en route to a 110-95 victory. Gilbert Arenas led all scorers with 22 points off the bench.

Teams are allowed to shoot from behind that line, and in fact shots made from beyond that line count for more points bullets:

– The Cavs were actually really competitive in this game, mostly because they played with more confidence on the offensive end than they’ve had in a while. Mo Williams set the tone by making some aggressive drives and hitting a few tough pull-up jumpers, and the team moved the ball and looked to attack early and often.

Antawn Jamison spent a lot more time in the paint than he usually does, and was more patient down there as well — instead of throwing up the first floater he dreamed up, he’d make multiple moves and wait until he actually had a good angle to the basket. And he did hit a few of his patented crazy runner/floaters as well. Sessions also had a promising game (he made jumpers! multiple jumpers!), and in the third quarter the Cavs ran an actual Princeton set to set JJ up with a dunk off a nice Varejao pass.

I actually didn’t mind the way the Cavs played defense at all, strangely enough. Howard finished with 12 points and 7 turnovers, the Hedo pick-and-roll wasn’t all that effective, and Arenas didn’t get to the basket much. And, believe it or not, the Cavs did a better job of contesting threes than they normally do. They didn’t run the Magic off the line, of course, but they weren’t giving up wide-open threes, and most of the time there was a Cav close enough to the shooter to contest the shot a little bit.

On Tuesday night, none of that mattered, because the Magic had themselves a three party. They hit threes in transition. They hit contested threes. They hit post-and-kick threes. They hit threes of of dribble-penetration. They hit pull-up threes in semi-transition. They hit crazy buzzer-beating threes. The entire team was absolutely on fire, and there’s no way that the Cavs were going to win. I’d call it a basketball deus ex machina, except the end result of the game was exactly what everybody expected it would be. Also, Earl Clark made jumpers on key possessions. Come on. That’s just not fair.

That’s all I really have for tonight. Not much more to say about this one, except for this: Last season, I was extremely confident that the Cavs could beat any team if they played their best game. This season, I am extremely confident that any team can beat the Cavs if that team plays their best game. The way the Magic were shooting tonight, there was no way the Cavs were going to be able to avoid their fourth straight loss.