Game 45: Cavs at Magic
Radio/TV: WTAM/Fox Sports Ohio
WHAT HAPPENED: It's like the movie, "Groundhog's Day" when the Cavs play the Magic. The Cavs have lost eight in a row to the Magic, including their last five at Amway Center. It's largely because of one player - center Dwight Howard. They just don't have anyone that can even slow him down.
He's powerful around the basket. He normally manhandles the Cavs in the paint. He had 16 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks on Friday.
They list Cavs rookie center Tristan Thompson at 6-foot-9, 227 pounds. Howard is 6-11, 275, and as strong as an ox. Ever tried moving an ox? Try it sometime. Thompson tried on Friday with 15 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks. He was up for the battle.
Howard is certainly not a well-rounded player. Push him 10 feet from the basket and he's largely ineffective. However, it's easier said than done.
The Cavs rarely double team players on defense. They gave Thompson some help with the occasional double team. When that happens, the Magic have a way of finding their 3-point shooters. They have several of them, too. They made 12 of 35 from behind the arc. They outscored the Cavs from long range, 36-12.
One can see why the Cavs just can't figure out the Magic. That goes back to the loss to Orlando in the 2009 playoffs. They couldn't figure out how to beat them then, and things haven't changed.
Perhaps the two top candidates for Most Improved Player were on the court Friday - Magic forward Ryan Anderson and Cavs forward Alonzo Gee. Anderson had 17 points, eight rebounds and two blocks against the Cavs. He'll likely win the award, but Gee is a legitimate candidate.
There's so much attention paid to Miami and Chicago, people tend to forget about the Magic in the playoff picture. They currently have the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. They'll be a tough out in the postseason.
Cavs guard Daniel Gibson didn't play because of his sprained left ankle. That means more playing time for Donald Sloan and Manny Harris in the backcourt. It's time to take a closer look at the pair of D-League prospects.
Neither player played very well on Friday. Sloan had three turnovers in 16 minutes. Harris was just 2 of 9 from the field for seven points.
The Cavs lost to Orlando on Feb. 3, 102-94.
NOTES: Forward Luke Walton made his Cavs' debut on Friday. He was scoreless in three minutes.
-- Former Cavs center Ryan Hollins was signed by the Boston Celtics on Friday. They needed a big man in the worst way with injuries to Jermaine O'Neal and Chris Wilcox. They waived Wilcox on Friday. He will have heart surgery at the Cleveland Clinic. Hollins was bought out of his contract with the Cavs and waived last Tuesday.
-- Also, the Cavs' game at Philadelphia on Tuesday will be broadcast on NBA TV.
UP NEXT: The Cavs host Phoenix at 3 p.m. Sunday at Quicken Loans Arena.
SF Alonzo Gee (6-6, 219) vs. Hedo Turkoglu (6-10, 220)
PF Antawn Jamison (6-9, 235) vs. Ryan Anderson (6-10, 240)
C Tristan Thompson (6-9, 227) vs. Dwight Howard (6-11, 275)
SG Anthony Parker (6-6, 210) vs. Jason Richardson (6-6, 225)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 191) vs. Jameer Nelson (6-0, 190)
Cavs – C Anderson Varejao, F Luke Harangody
Magic - G Von Wafer, F Justin Harper