Magic 101, Cavs 96
In a nutshell:
A slow start doomed the Cavs to their third consecutive defeat Sunday afternoon in their nationally televised game. Offensively, there was little in the way of flow. As they shot just 38 percent in the first quarter. Things got progressively better heading into the second, but they still found themselves down by six points to end the first half.
Defensively, they looked just as bad as they'd played the past five games. The Magic shot 58 percent from the floor in those first two quarters. Things changed in the third. The Cavs opened on a 16-4 run. Played their best defense since way before the All-Star break and looked to be on their way.
What has been made clear after Antawn Jamison's performance starting the second half is that he'll be starting sooner rather than later. And that it should be.
Game: Cavs vs. Orlando Magic
TV: ABC (WEWS Chanel 5 locally)
Radio: WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM)
Cavs: LeBron James (F); J.J. Hickson(F); Shaquille O'Neal (C); Anthony Parker (G); Mo Williams (G).
Magic: Matt Barnes (F); Rashard Lewis (F); Dwight Howard (C); Vince Carter (G); Jameer Nelson (G).
Injured: Leon Powe (left knee surgery) - OUT.
Officials: Joe DeRosa, Tony Brown and Gary Zielinski.
Put all the trash talk aside (you know, Shaq's "Superman my ass" quote) and the Orlando Magic would be sniffing blood to begin anyway. The Cavs have lost two in a row and right now resemble the team that started the season, not the one that won 13 games consecutively. Anyone who thought Mo Williams would be able to come back in and not be rusty isn't being realistic.
Then there's the case of Antawn Jamison. Mike Brown doesn't know how to use him yet. You'd suspect that eventually he's going to end up in the starting rotation, which would send J.J. Hickson to the bench. Friday night was in no way indicative of his ability on the court. Even he confessed to being a bit nervous.
The game will ultimately come down to two good defensive teams duking it out. The Cavs are ranked third defensively and the Magic fourth. But here's the dilemma, defense hasn't exactly been the Cavs' forte right now. They've looked godawful on that side of the court, giving up better than 50 percent shooting in the past five games. They cannot do that against the Magic or they will get burned.