Orlando made sure it was not the team that Cleveland ended this ignoble streak against. They made sure of it early and skated off to the sunset.
It was not a Toronto-style beat down or a game that would make Magic fans feel everything is going to be OK. This was just a win. A 103-87 win over the Cavaliers at Amway Center on Sunday night.
Things were not perfect. Nowhere near it. Orlando still struggled to keep up intensity and focus for 48 minutes and make 3-pointers -- even open ones. But Dwight Howard and a killer first quarter were more than enough.
The Magic won the opening quarter 33-17 and got 20 points and 20 rebounds from Dwight Howard. Howard was completely unstoppable and Cleveland had no way to contain him. If he could make free throws, he might have done any better. But his +27 plus/minus shows you how few answers the Cavaliers had for him.
If he had played the fourth quarter, there is no telling what he could have done.
Cleveland, thankfully for Orlando, is a pretty hapless team. The Cavaliers are a complete wreck and could put up little fight. I do not mean to say they have completely given up. Even without Anderson Varejao and Mo Williams, the Cavaliers fought extremely hard. There were plenty of moments in the game where Orlando was preparing to run away and Cleveland fought its way back to a respectable margin. They may be devoid of a ton of talent, but they are scrappy.
It says something that the Cavaliers played the Magic even in the final three quarters. I am not sure what that says, but it says something. It likely means Orlando just took the foot off the pedal once the lead was established and accelerated only when the lead shrunk. Cleveland got it to nine early in the third quarter and then never sniffed the lead again.
Still Orlando blew out Cleveland because when the team wanted to, it outworked Cleveland and simply out-talented them.
Except for Howard, no one in the starting lineup shot better than 50 percent. As a team, Orlando shot 41.3 percent and a frigid 9 for 31 from beyond the arc. Orlando made up for the poor shooting by almost guaranteeing itself two shots every trip down the floor. The Magic picked up 24 offensive rebounds and a 45.3 percent offensive rebound percentage. That is just an incredible number.
Despite 18 turnovers, the Magic just had the Cavaliers beat almost from the point they walked into the stadium.
I mean, when Ryan Anderson scores a career-high 23 points and grabs a career-high 16 rebounds, you know it is not really your night. Especially when the Magic are missing as many 3-pointers as they did. Amazingly Cleveland shot better than Orlando did at 43.4 percent.
Stan Van Gundy said it best. The first quarter featured great offense, great defense and great focus and energy. The rest of the game... they knew who they were playing and got the job done.