The Cleveland Cavaliers finished up their three-game road trip with a 93-80 loss to the Orlando Magic at the Amway Center Friday night.
In a game where 10 players were in double figures, five with the Cavaliers (17-28) and five with the Magic (31-18), Orlando found a way to bother Cleveland when shooting the ball and took advantage of their poor ball distribution. The Cavaliers recored a season-low 10 assists, with Cavaliers guard and birthday boy Kyrie Irving accounting for six of those assists. Irving, who turned 20 Friday, couldn’t find his shot for most of the night, struggling especially from behind the arc. Cleveland shot just 4 of 18 from three as a collective unit, highlighting one of the more frustrating long-range shooting nights for the Cavaliers all season.
But it was a battle of the big men that was the most intriguing. The Cavaliers rookie Tristan Thompson, who is just getting acquainted with the center position, squared off against veteran Magic center Dwight Howard. Both players put in very good performances, as Thompson 15 points and grabbed 11 rebounds while Howard scored 16 points and recorded 13 rebounds. It was Thompson’s second double-double in three games. Friday was a great chance to see where Thompson was at concerning his progress as a starting center. He wasn’t completely overwhelmed by Superman, as it was a good learning experience for Thompson.
But when Thompson looked to the bench for help (he played a team-high 37 minutes), only Omri Casspi and Manny Harris responded. Casspi, who has been struggling to produce throughout the month of March, scored 11 points on 4 of 7 shooting, which is a pretty good night for the small forward. Harris, who saw extended time off the bench due to Daniel Gibson’s ankle injury and Anthony Parker’s struggles, scored seven points in his 25 minutes of play.
Harris, along with Donald Sloan, will see a lot more minutes in the future as it looks like the Cavaliers are not going to earn the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. With Parker’s skills slowly deteriorating game by game and Gibson fighting off injuries, Harris and Sloan will be fighting for a guard position on the Cavs bench for the rest of the season and possibly into next season.
The Cavaliers will travel back to Cleveland where they will meet the Phoenix Suns on Sunday at 3 p.m. at Quicken Loans Arena.