Overview: The Orlando Magic manhandled the Cavaliers in the paint and on the glass, and had 18 more offensive rebounds than Cleveland did over the course of a 103-87 victory. Dwight Howard and Ryan Anderson combined for 43 points and 36 rebounds.
It’s one thing to let Superman own you, and quite another to get manhandled by Jimmy Olsen bullets:
Does this team understand that it is five losses away from the longest losing streak of all time? Do they understand that they have one win since the end of November? Do they realize they are one loss away from a winless month? Do they realize that they only have so many chances to get a win?
If so, why did they roll over and die against a Magic team that never found its offensive rhythm? There was nothing the Cavs could have done against Howard while playing J.J. Hickson, Samardo Samuels, and Ryan Hollins against him. You expect him to get 20 and 20. He’s too big, too strong, too fast, and too skilled around the basket. (Did you see that move where he faked a spin, then pivoted back around and finished with his left, all while going at full speed? Nasty.)
What you don’t expect is for Jameer Nelson to get more offensive rebounds than every Cavalier player except for Manny Harris, who tied him. You don’t expect the entire team to get out-rebounded by Ryan Anderson. When Howard was in the game, the Cavs got manhandled. When he wasn’t, the team got outworked. There is no conceivable way that this team can be competitive if the other team wants it more, and the Magic wanted it more than the Cavs did. They fought for rebounds, stole the ball in the backcourt, chased down loose balls, made the extra passes. The Cavs threw up shots, watched the ball bounce away, and let themselves off the hook by remembering that nobody expected them to beat the Magic anyways.
At one point, Daniel Gibson got into the paint and drained a floater in a half-court situation. A few plays later, he pushed off a made basket, blew past the Magic defense, and laid it in. Stan Van Gundy immediately called a time-out. Fred McCloud did a (pretty funny) impression of SVG yelling at his team about unacceptable defense, which is exactly what he was doing. Gibson didn’t score another basket. That’s holding a team accountable. That’s the kind of pride competitive teams have. That’s what we’re not seeing from the Cavs, who couldn’t put pressure on a Magic team that missed 22 of their 31 threes against the league’s worst three-point defense.
Individually, I was impressed by Manny Harris. He had great energy, and he made his jumpers. When you do those things, you’re contributing. Antawn was in the Twilight Zone, which will happen to shooters every now and again, and Hickson just had no chance against Dwight Howard. Hey, remember how the Cavs traded for Jamison specifically to help them match up against the Magic? I’m going to go laugh loudly into the toilet about that.
That’s all for tonight. Four more chances to avoid tying the record.