Gilbert Arenas dropped in a 3-pointer and began his trot down to the defensive end when he unleashed an old-fashioned “Hibachi” shake. With it might have gone some of his demons from Washington and another impressive performance against his old nemesis from Cleveland.
Arenas is slowly starting to find ways to contribute to this team. Everyone might look at his scoring, but his passing has been key too.
Arenas and Jameer Nelson shared the court for much of the fourth quarter — without Dwight Howard, saddled with foul trouble and ultimately unnecessary for the win — and led the Magic to win the quarter 35-21.
Orlando used a barrage of 3-pointers throughout the game to mask some sketchy defense and pull away for a 110-95 victory at Quicken Loans Arena on Tuesday.
The Magic hit 19 of their 31 3-point attempts, marking the most 3-pointers made against the Cavaliers in that franchise’s history. Every 3-pointer seemed especially necessary early in the game as Cleveland was more or less unstoppable offensively. The Cavaliers shot well over 50 percent for much of the game until the team cooled off considerably in the fourth quarter.
The Cavaliers scored 33 points in the opening quarter and seemed ready to outwork the Magic on both ends of the floor. Anderson Varejao did a fantastic job pestering Dwight Howard, who played only 29 minutes and scored 12 points, grabbed six rebounds and committed seven turnovers.
Not his best game.
Arenas and Nelson were more than game to pick up the slack. Arenas had a game-high 22 points and had 11 assists, including a Play of the Year-worthy behind the back pass to Howard on the fast break. Nelson shot only 4 for 11 and scored 13 points, but his six assists (against just one turnover) were crucial as the Magic pulled away in the fourth quarter.
The bench too was crucial as Orlando spent most of the fourth quarter with Dwight Howard, Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu on the bench. JJ Redick had 14 points and Earl Clark was a pleasant surprise with 12 points as Ryan Anderson, Brandon Bass and Howard had foul troubles.
In the end it was increasing the effort that led to getting this win. Stan Van Gundy made that one of the adjustments at halftime as his team was outhustled.
Varejao did a lot of that work, getting nine rebounds and pestering Howard all night long. Early on, Cleveland was doing a lot of the grimy, dirty work too. Mo Williams had all 14 of his points in the first quarter. It just seemed like the Cavaliers played with a greater sense of urgency.
The Cavaliers got to the line 33 times, hitting 23. The Magic committed 25 personal fouls, just showing the lethargy on defense that was present throughout.
Cleveland forced Orlando into 20 turnovers and a lot of them were of the lazy variety. Stan Van Gundy was right that the focus was just not there early.
Once the turnovers were cleaned up in most of the fourth quarter, the Cavaliers started shooting poorer and the Magic were able to pull away.
It was good work by Jason Richardson (20 points on 8-for-13 shooting) and JJ Redick to keep Orlando in the game. Amazing what 50 percent shooting and 60 percent 3-point shooting can do.
Eventually the Magic were too much.