Ken Blaze/USA TODAY
Glen Davis is the one who talks about it the most -- consistency and learning how to win when the young team steps on the floor. With the way the Eastern Conference is, there are no moral victories because the thought of making the Playoffs is so tangible.
Maybe that is not the absolute best thing for the Magic's long-term development considering teh Draft. But you cannot fault the competitors taking the floor and battling every night not to give their all and go for wins when they are there.
No one is under the impression that this is the most talented team. Even the players in the locker room recognize the margin for error is extremely slim.
Slim enough to see a nine-point lead with 64 seconds to play? Apparently so. No lead is safe with this young Magic team.
The Magic made mistake after mistake and allowed the Cavaliers back into the game. A Jameer Nelson foul on a Jarrett Jack 3-pointer brought the Cavaliers three made free throws and a four-point game. A five-second inbound violation led to a Dion Waiters layup. And two missed free throws from E'Twaun Moore set up Waiters' game-tying layup.
Orlando was not winning that game in overtime. Not after the complete collapse of inexcusable play after inexcusable play from veterans too. And that turned out to be the way it was. Anderson Varejao dominated the glass and hit a few shots and the Magic's anemic offense could not generate anything without stops, falling to the Cavaliers 87-81 at Quicken Loans Arena on Thursday.
This was a game that was supposed to be a quality win for the Magic.
After a week of seeing the defense generate offense and be the crux for the team's scoring, this was a game where the defense was going to win it on its own. The Magic's offense was awful, but so was the Cavaliers. Both teams played without key players -- Nikola Vucevic for the Magic and Kyrie Irving fro the Cavaliers -- and it showed as the offenses just could not work without these focal points.
The Magic sometimes let their poor play on offense hurt their defensive intensity. That was not the case tonight. Not until the final 64 seconds.
Maybe if Orlando would have had a more consistent and flowing offense, particularly late in the fourth quarter and overtime, there would not have been issue. Certainly not at the end of the fourth quarter.
The Magic built as much as a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter and seemed about ready to coast to a victory. In fact, they did as evidenced by the unfocused collapse.
Any positive that could have come from this game has to be issued with the caveat of the sheer stupidity and lack of execution of the final minute.
The overtime felt worse as the team's heart just felt ripped out. The Magic relied heavily on Glen Davis post ups and Arron Afflalo isos for points. They struggled to get out on the break or even secondary breaks to create flowing offense. When Orlando was doing that, particularly with Tobias Harris, the offense actually looked pretty good.
Jameer Nelson made several run-busting shots, but was not fantastic. Nobody was fantastic shooting the ball as the team made only 38.1 percent of its shots.
Glen Davis scored 16 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, making six of 19 shots. Nelson had 14 points and nine assists. Arron Afflalo had just 12 points on 5-for-15 shooting. It was just not a good shooting night.
Cleveland was not much better, shooting 34.4 percent from the floor getting 18 points on 17 field goal attempts from Anderson Varejao and 17 points 20 field goal attempts from Dion Waiters. Generally you would burn the tape of this game, even in a win.
The bottom line was, Orlando had a chance to get a really nice, character-building, grind-it-out win. The kind of win good teams know how to get all the time and young teams rarely get to experience in victory. Instead, it was an epic collapse that should have the team angry and disappointed at itself.
Hopefully they expect and want more.