Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images
As with most games this season for the Orlando Magic, the final score is almost meaningless. A different roster brought about the same result. Orlando got blown out at home by a bad Cavs team, who pulled out a convincing 118-94 victory despite a relatively mundane 12-point performance by Kyrie Irving.
This game mattered because it served as our first look at what the new rotation will be for the rest of the season, as well as our first impressions of Doron Lamb, Tobias Harris, and Beno Udrih in a Magic jersey.
Of the three newcomers from the J.J. Redick trade, Harris was by far the most impressive. He was energetic at both ends of the floor, finishing with 14 points and three blocks. The battle for minutes at small forward between he and Moe Harkless, who also had a solid 13-point, five-rebound game, will be fascinating to watch going forward.
Udrih’s numbers weren’t spectacular, but he gave Jacque Vaughn a much-needed steadying hand at point guard with Jameer Nelson injured once again. As he’s been his entire career, he showed himself to be a smart passer and decision-maker.
Given Nelson’s deteriorating health, I almost prefer the idea of Udrih as a long-term “veteran leadership”/floor-general type as a backup point guard over Jameer for future seasons. Who he’d back up remains to be seen, however.
Lamb didn’t do much in his Magic debut, but he was always going to be a project. Given the hopeless nature of their schedule and roster this season, they can afford to bring him along slowly.
The two most impressive youngsters on Saturday, however, were Kyle O’Quinn and DeQuan Jones.
Jones had several monster dunks that brought a much-needed dose of energy to a Magic offense that looked lethargic most of the way. And O’Quinn continued his solid two-way play of late, finishing with six points, seven rebounds, and a block in just over 13 minutes. That last stat, the playing time, will likely increase in the coming weeks as he continues to make the case that he deserves more time.
MVP (Most Valuable Player)
Arron Afflalo led the Magic in scoring with 16 points on 6-for-12 shooting and added three assists. With Nelson sidelined and Redick gone, look for Afflalo to become Orlando’s de-facto go-to option on offense.
The Cavs annihilated the Magic from beyond the arc. Cleveland shot 9-for-21 from three-point range, including 4-for-7 from C.J. Miles. The Magic, meanwhile, shot a measly 4-for-14. This is where losing J.J. Redick hurts them the most.
The Magic kept it close in the first half, but Miles and Marreese Speights came out strong in the third quarter and helped Cleveland pull away. By the end of the quarter, it was already becoming a blowout and Orlando never got back in it.