Magic 93, Cavaliers 80
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP)
There have been times this season when then Orlando Magic have allowed teams to get back into games by erasing their big leads.
Usually, they've been able to lean on All-Star center Dwight Howard to get them through their jagged moments.
The Magic ran into another one against Cleveland, but did just fine without him this time in beating the Cavaliers 93-80 on Friday night.
Ryan Anderson scored 17 points and Howard added 16 points and 13 rebounds to lead the way. All five starters scored in double figures as the Magic sizzled shooting the ball early, improving to 18-3 when that occurs.
Anderson said crisp ball movement put Orlando in good position at the right times against the Cavs.
''This is when we can play the best and I think our defense really translated well on the offensive end,'' he said. ''We got some easy buckets on the other end.''
With just about a month to go in the season, Anderson said that the playoffs are already on the minds of the Magic players.
That was evident in the middle of first quarter when Hedo Turkoglu was caught giving a lackadaisical effort as Alonzo Gee drove past him and in for a layup.
As Turkoglu turned to run up the court, he was met with audible discontent from a couple of his teammates.
Turkoglu said afterwards he didn't take offense to any of the chastising and that it is all part of the team developing a playoff mentality.
''Guys are gonna scream and yell. That's how you become a team,'' he said. ''We've gotta help each other. Guys are going to make mistakes and you gotta recover and not do it again. In that situation, we had to be on the same page and we just moved on.''
The Magic have won eight straight games against the Cavaliers. Orlando is off until Monday, when it begins a two-game road trip against Toronto.
Antawn Jamison scored 16 points and had nine rebounds to lead Cleveland. Tristan Thompson added 15 points and 11 boards, and Kyrie Irving had 13 points.
The Cavs lost for the fifth time in six games.
Cleveland had a healthy Anderson Varejao at center when they lost to Orlando by eight back on Feb. 3. Howard was held to a modest 19 points, while Varejao kept his team close with a double-double.
With Varejao sidelined since Feb. 10 with a broken right wrist, the rookie Thompson drew the duty of guarding Howard on Friday and the Magic All-Star took advantage of matchup as Orlando built a 20-point lead in the third quarter.
The only thing that slowed down Howard was fouls.
He picked up his fourth late in the third quarter, coinciding with the Magic's lead dropping to just seven points. Orlando shot just 6 for 20 from the floor in the period.
The Magic hung tough without him, increasing their lead back to 16 by the time Howard returned with just over five minutes to play in the game.
The lead never fell below 11 the rest of the way.
''One of those games,'' Cleveland coach Byron Scott said. ''It told them ... this isn't Wall St. It's not the stock market. You can't have the lulls that we had. ... We're not good enough to play that way, especially against a good time like Orlando.''
His double-double aside, Thompson acknowledged that he had his issues with Howard underneath.
''He's a walking 20-20 guy. We had our hands full,'' he said. ''We tried to just limit his touches and make other guys score. Unfortunately they made a lot of 3s tonight.''
Anderson had three 3-pointers and 13 points as the Magic built 55-40 lead at the half.
The Magic had 11 turnovers, but made up for it shooting 56 percent (23 for 41) from the field and connecting on nine 3-pointers.
The Cavs shot just 36 percent and had nine turnovers of their own that led to 11 Orlando points.
Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said overall he was pleased with his team's effort on both ends, though continued to harp on turnovers. Orlando had 20 Friday and have now racked up 96 over their last five games.
''I don't want guys playing in fear of making plays, but there's some of the ones we're just not even looking when we throw the ball, things like that we've got to cut those down,'' Van Gundy said. ''We've got to play a little bit better when we have a lead but our effort the last two games and our focus on the defensive end of the floor has been very, very good.''
Anderson said it's all about the playoffs from here on out, little internal skirmishes or not.
''I think it's definitely on our minds,'' he said. ''When we huddle it up after the game that's one thing we focus on, just getting better because it's crunch-time.''
NOTES: Howard recorded his 40th double-double of the season. ... Irving celebrated his 20th birthday on Friday. ...The Magic shot just 30 percent (6 for 20) in the third quarter. ...The Magic are one of only two teams in the NBA with six players averaging in double figures.