Once again, the final score is much closer than this game actually was. The Cavs were down by 15+ for much of the game and did then went through their typical fourth quarter surge to try to salvage a win. This time, it wasn't enough as the Magic took down the Cavaliers by a score of 102-94. The loss knocks the Cavs down to 8-13 on the season.
Cavs Leaders: Points: Gee, 20; Rebounds: Varejao, 15; Assists: Sessions, 8
The Cavaliers started the game shooting 4 of 19 from the floor and buried themselves pretty early. The Cavs couldn't get anything going offensively, much of that having to do with Kyrie Irving's inability to get anything to fall. I pointed out in my preview that Dwight Howard is an absolute nightmare for opposing guards as well as big men. Irving is able to penetrate at will, but Howard's presence made it very difficult for Irving to finish anything around the rim. It was easily Kyrie's worst non-Raptors game of the season. He shot just 7 of 21 from the floor to get his 18 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds. The total numbers look solid, but it's not nearly as efficient as we are used to seeing from the rookie.
Somebody should cover Ryan Anderson, just saying. He was open for too many threes, and the Cavs are lucky he didn't hit more of them. Every time the Magic hit a three pointer, I have awful flashbacks to the 2009 playoffs.
The absence of Daniel Gibson, Anthony Parker, and Tristan Thompson is starting to be a real problem. Mychel Thompson is an okay fill-in player, but he is not nearly as good as Boobie and not even as good as Parker, if you can believe that. Thompson shot 0-6 from the field and was pretty much useless for most of the game. Hopefully Boobie will be back sooner rather than later.
Dwight Howard is a beast. He made his defensive presence known with eight blocks and altered countless other shots. The Cavs actually did an okay job defending Dwight and employed the hack-a-Dwight- strategy down the stretch, but the big man still managed to grab his 16 rebounds and made life impossible for the Cavs in the paint. I cannot overstate how important it is to have a big defensive presence that can hold down the paint and cover up the mistakes of perimeter defenders. If Tristan Thompson can become half the defender that Dwight Howard is, then I'll be pretty stoked.
I already talked about Irving's off-night and I don't expect it to be a recurring theme. Only one team in the league has Dwight Howard and Irving should return to his highly efficient ways once the team gets out of Orlando.
Anderson Varejao didn't score efficiently (12 points on 13 shots), but did his usual work on the glass. The league's leading offensive rebounder gobbled up 15 boards (3 offensive) and snagged 3 steals.
Antawn Jamison accidentally grabbed a double-double in the first half and finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds. That sounds like a pretty good night, except for the fact that it took him 19 shots to get those 16 points. The Cavs probably should have traded Tawn at half-time when his stock was at its peak.
Ramon Sessions quietly put together a pretty nice evening. His 14 points, 8 assists, and 6 rebounds are the kind of things that will get the Cavs some pretty good value in return for Sessions when he gets traded.
Fear The Sword's Player Of The Game:
Gee is a legitimate candidate for Most Improved Player, in my opinion. He recorded the first 20-point game of his career and did it quite efficiently (just 12 shots). His 3-point range has probably been the most impressive part of Gee's game this year and it was on full display Friday night. Gee went 3-4 from behind the arc. Oh yeah, he also had his nightly highlight reel dunk. There has been talk about getting Gee into the Slam Dunk Contest during All-Star Weekend. I fully support this campaign. #LetAlonzoDunk