Magic 104, Cavs 90
--Classic victory for the Magic. This is how they beat people, they get hot from the outside and it makes them very, very hard to guard. They torched the Cavs defense in the second half and shot 50 percent to score 64 points. I didn't think the Cavs played poorly on defense either, it is hard to defend 6-foot-10 3-point shooters. Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis went 7-of-7 from 3-point range in the third quarter and it changed the game. The Cavs had to adjust their coverage and then Dwight Howard bombed them for 10 points in the fourth. --When the Magic hit 3s, they are hard to beat. I don't think taking 30 of them every night or giving up 100 points a game works in the playoffs. But I could be proven wrong. The Cavs are a shrink the floor defensive team and so are the other good defensive teams in the NBA and it is very hard to play help defense on the inside when you have to close out to 6-10 guys shooting 3-pointers. Then they come off the bench with Brian Cook and Pat Garrity, two more very long shooters. Ben Wallace can't guard some of these stretch fours. --That said, I don't think Mike Brown did very well in the fourth quarter. The game was right there and he deploys Joe Smith on Howard? No, that doesn't work and he got burned by it. Then after LeBron got to the basket three times in a row and cut it to five, Stan Van Gundy called timeout and changed his pick-and-roll coverage to blitz James. Mike didn't put in his shooting lineup and the offense went dead. Not his best effort there. --Zydrunas Ilgauskas paid on the back-to-back tonight, he went 2-of-10. Wallace didn't have a rebound after the first quarter. The Cavs had at least eight unforced turnovers. These are issues you deal with on back-to-backs and the Cavs have had a lot of those lately. --I think you can concede the No. 3 seed to Orlando, the Cavs are down 6.5 games and aren't going to get the tiebreaker. --Just before the second half started, LeBron came over an introduced himself to Tiger Woods, who was sitting in the front row. Turns out it was the first time they've met, which is amazing considering they are both Nike guys and Tiger spends a week in Akron every summer for the Bridgestone Invitational. Tiger smiled, said hello and said he'd call LeBron. Afterwards we did not ask LeBron to put meeting him in hip hop terms.
Pregame Starting lineups Cavs: Delonte West, Sasha Pavlovic, LeBron James, Ben Wallace, Zydrunas Ilgauskas Magic: Jameer Nelson, Maurice Evans, Hedo Turkoglu, Rashard Lewis, Dwight Howard
Officials Monty McCutchen, Joe Crawford, Olandis Poole
--The Cavs are behind the 8-ball on rest again, the Magic were off yesterday and the Cavs played and flew two hours down here after the game. Also, it is yet to be seen how the ailing backs of Wallace and Ilgauskas will react on a back-to-back. Advantage Magic. --A challenge in this one will be how Wallace deals with Lewis, who stays out by the 3-point line. In fact, the Magic like to penetrate and kick out to 3-point shooters when they are not pounding the ball into Howard and the Cavs will have to be crisp in rotations. --Wally Szczerbiak's minutes have been dwindling over the last three games. Mike Brown said before the game he hasn't been pleased with Wally's "technical defense." That may be true, but hitting a few jumpers would be nice, too. --Tiger Woods is supposed to be in the building tonight if you like to know that kind of stuff. No word on Soulja Boy.
Halftime -- Cavs 45, Magic 40 --All things considered, Cavs played pretty well in the first half. They really fought Dwight Howard, sometimes triple-teaming him and he still has 12 points. They are scrambling when they can on defense but sometimes just living with the Magic's 3-pointers and so far they are just 5-of-17. In my opinion, this is the Magic's weakness. They often just hoist up those 3s but when they got hot they'll kill you. I just don't think that's a great strategy in the playoffs. --The Cavs had 14 fastbreak points in the first half, a clear difference in the game. They have trouble getting into the paint when Howard is in the game so getting easy baskets is important. --Rashard Lewis had three fouls and no points in the first half, Hedo Turkoglu went just 1-of-7. You have to figure one or both of those guys will heat up. --LeBron didn't seem to be to into this game at the start, but his energy really picked up in the second quarter. He's on pace to get near another triple double and has 14 points on just six official shots.
Stars Howard, 23 points, 13 rebounds Lewis, 21 points Turkoglu, 18 points LeBron, 30 points, nine rebounds, six assists
Quotes LeBron: "That's a team that shoots the ball extremely well. They are making threes and we're trying to make twos, we didn't recover from it. It is tough to try to contain Dwight on the inside and contain their shooters on the outside." Brown: "Giving up 64 points in a half on the road...it's going to be tough for us to get a win."
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