Cavaliers 102, Magic 84

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CLEVELAND (AP)—So far the Cavaliers’ new scoreboard has said the same thing after every home game: blowout.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas scored 20 of his 22 points in the first half, LeBron James added 16 and the Cleveland Cavaliers cruised to their fifth straight easy win at home, 102-84 over the Orlando Magic on Friday night.

“I wish we had 82 games at home,” James said.

With their sixth consecutive victory, the Cavs improved to 7-2, matching the second-best start in franchise history. Only Cleveland’s 1976-77 squad, which started 8-0, has opened better.

This season has a long way to go, but the Cavaliers have more depth and offensive weapons than at any time since James came into the NBA. More importantly, they’re playing great defense under rookie coach Mike Brown.

“This is the most fun I’ve had in my 2 1/2 years so far,” James said. “We have to keep it going.”

Drew Gooden added 15 points, Damon Jones made five 3-pointers, Larry Hughes had 12 points and Jackson had the night’s nicest pass for the Cavs, who are 5-0 at Quicken Loans Arena, winning each game by an average 20 points.

“I love blowing teams out,” said James, who rested for the final 10:25. “Right now, we’re riding our confidence and we’ve got to blow teams out. That’s what we want to do. We don’t want any close games.”

Orlando came in as the NBA’s stingiest defensive team, but the Cavs beat the Magic for the second time in a week, surpassing the 100-point plateau against Orlando for the second time. The Magic have held their other six opponents under 100.

“I’ve never played with so much talent,” said Ilgauskas, who has been with the Cavs since 1996. “You can afford to have a bad quarter or half. In the past, if you had a bad stretch, you were basically done.”

Steve Francis had 21 points and Dwight Howard added 10 points and 15 rebounds for Orlando, which was outrebounded 54-40. The Cavaliers dominated at their end, finishing with 25 offensive rebounds—eight by Ilgauskas.

“Ilgauskas had seven in the first quarter alone,” Magic coach Brian Hill said. “I’m not sure I’ve ever been involved in a game where the other team had 25 offensive rebounds.”

Ilgauskas, who had 11 rebounds overall, and James spent most of the fourth quarter on the bench, getting rest for Saturday night’s game at Philadelphia.

Leading by 14 at halftime, the Cavaliers opened their lead to 20 after three when James crowned the period by delivering a soaring one-handed dunk off a gorgeous alley-oop pass from Jackson. However, Ilgauskas started the play by stepping around to poke the ball away from Howard underneath.

“That play right there,” Brown said. “I just love it. That’s what we need to be doing for 48 minutes.”

Jackson hit a 3-pointer and Jones buried his fifth 3 as the Cavaliers extended their lead to 28 with 8:47 left.

Brown then emptied his bench of reserves, a luxury he’s had all year at home.

“I’ll take it,” Ilgauskas said. “These are a lot easier on the body.”

After the Magic pulled to 43-35 in the second quarter, Ilgauskas came off the bench and helped the Cavs push their lead to 14 at halftime by making two straight jumpers and feeding Gooden with a behind-the-back pass in traffic.

Ilgauskas, who led the league in offensive rebounds last season, played volleyball around the basket in the first quarter. Tipping back his own misses, he scored 15 points and was credited with seven offensive boards in the period.


Ilgauskas has scored 20 more in a half four times in his career, three of them since January. … Howard has six double-doubles in a row. … Brown has vivid memories of last year’s brawl in Detroit, when Pacers forward Ron Artest and several Indiana teammates fought Pistons fans in the stands. “It was scary,” said Brown, unaware that one year has passed since one of the NBA’s darker moments. Brown, who spent two seasons as a Pacers assistant, was one of the first to reach Artest. “I’m just happy nobody got hurt.” … James isn’t the only youngster setting league records. Earlier this week, the 19-year-old Howard became the youngest to get 20 points and 20 rebounds in a game. He had 21 and 20 against Charlotte.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
S. Francis S. Francis
6-13,  21 Pts
2 Rebs, 5 Assists
Z. Ilgauskas Z. Ilgauskas
9-14,  22 Pts
11 Rebs, 3 Assists

Team Stat Leaders