Cavaliers-Magic Preview


While their home win over one of the NBA's worst teams may not have been inspiring, the Orlando Magic are feeling better after a frustrating losing streak.

The Magic will try to build on the victory when they go for their seventh straight win over the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night.

After an ugly four-game skid in which it averaged 76.0 points and shot 39.4 percent, Orlando defeated Washington 109-103 on Wednesday.

The Magic (13-9), though, struggled against the lowly Wizards. They had 11 turnovers in the first half and had to hold on after Washington rallied late.

Dwight Howard had 23 points and 18 rebounds, while Hedo Turkoglu scored 13 of his 16 points in the second half. Turkoglu averaged 5.8 points, had 16 assists to 15 turnovers and shot 20.6 percent during the losing streak.

Orlando said the victory won't mean much if it can't carry the momentum forward.

"I think we need to look to the next game and bring the same effort and energy," said forward Ryan Anderson, who made six 3-pointers and scored 23. "We didn't want to focus too much on that streak because that's a week we'd all like to forget. Those games we'd all like to forget about and we can move forward and get a win next game and just start a little run.

"This started our confidence, but we need to follow through with it."

Coach Stan Van Gundy still has concerns about the offense, though. The Magic have averaged 18.0 turnovers over the last four games and have been hurt by the absence of point guard Jameer Nelson, who has missed the last three contests with concussion symptoms.

"It's frustrating to me as a coach because I can't figure out what we're doing wrong," Van Gundy said.

Orlando will try to win back-to-back games for the first time since a five-game run Jan. 8-17 when it hosts a Cleveland team that lost 93-90 on its own court Tuesday to split a home-and-home series with Boston.

After overcoming an 11-point deficit in the final 4 1/2 minutes of Sunday's 88-87 victory in Boston, the Cavs (8-12) nearly did it again Tuesday. They trimmed a 22-point lead to two with 1:18 remaining, but the Celtics scored the next four points.

"We just couldn't finish it off," said point guard Kyrie Irving, the NBA's rookie of the month for January who scored 13 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter. "They gave us their best shot and it came down to the final minutes. We've just got to keep our energy up for 48 minutes."

Cleveland was short-handed with guards Daniel Gibson and Anthony Parker out. Rookie forward Tristan Thompson did not return after injuring his left ankle in the second quarter and is day to day.

Undrafted rookie guard Mychel Thompson is expected to get his second straight start. After playing just once in the first 18 games, he played 12 minutes off the bench Sunday, then made his first NBA start Tuesday, finishing with eight points, four assists and three turnovers.

"I just kind of stared at him for a second as he took his jacket off," coach Byron Scott said. "It wasn't one of those 'Oh, my God,' (looks). ... I can't remember the last time I put a player in a situation like that and saw him play so well."

Including playoffs, the Cavs have lost three straight and 11 of 13 in Orlando.