Cavs vs Magic Behind The Box Score: Undefeated in 2014!

They say box scores don’t tell the whole story. Behind The Box Score is a new series where from time to time we will attempt to look behind the box score and tell more of the complete story of what happened in the game.

Anderson Varejao vs MagicThere are ugly games in the NBA. Teams have ugly wins. Then you have whatever this game was. With Kyrie Irving sitting out with a bruised left knee, the Cavaliers played one of the worst basketball games I have ever seen. Thankfully, they played the Orlando Magic.

There’s not a whole lot to say about the first 3.9 quarters of this game. Both teams took turns trying to out-lose each other, but in the final minute of the game, the Magic appeared to have a comfortable 79-70 lead. In the final minute, all kinds of crazy would break out.

Dion Waiters got things started by hitting a pair of FTs. After an Arron Afflalo miss, Jarrett Jack was fouled on a three-point attempt and would make all 3 free throws. Orlando would then get called for a 5 second violation trying to inbound the ball. Dion would make layup to bring the Cavs within two at 79-77 with 10 seconds left. The Cavs fouled E’Twaun Moore to send him to the line with 9 seconds left. Moore would miss both free throws and on the 2nd miss, the Magic knocked the ball out of bounds to give the ball back to the Cavs. Dion then completed a nice drive to the basket to tie the game with 0.6 seconds left and the game would go to overtime.

In overtime, the Magic could only manage 2 points, going scoreless over the final 3:19 of the game, and the Cavaliers pulled away to come up with an unexpected 87-81 win. For most of this game it felt like the Cavaliers were hitting rock bottom. It was offensive to the game of basketball, and it really said a lot about the construction of this team outside of Kyrie Irving. But credit to guys like Anderson Varejao, Tristan Thompson, Matthew Dellavedova, and Dion Waiters who all made huge plays at different points and found a way to come up with a win.

Now let’s get into the mostly ugly numbers…

  • 25 – There’s really no other place to start than with Anderson Varejao’s 25 rebounds. Andy finished the game with 18 points, 25 rebounds (8 offensive), 3 assists, and 1 block. He played like a man possessed and came up with so many big plays when nobody else seemed to be doing anything. Andy’s previous career high was 23 rebounds and the Cavaliers team record is 25, a record Andy now shares with Rick Roberson.
  • 38.1% and 34.4% – The Magic shot 38.1% from the field and the Cavaliers shot 34.4% from the field. I don’t know what the NBA record is for worst combined shooting in a game, but it’s really hard to imagine two teams playing much worse on offense than these teams played in this game. Both teams had pretty even scoring distribution, with 4 of the 5 starters for both teams finishing in double digit scoring. But overall, the points were hard to come by. Andy led all scorers with 18 points, with Dion adding 17 off the bench. Glen Davis had 16 points to lead the Magic.
  • 16 and 10 – It wasn’t necessarily the prettiest game for Tristan Thompson, but he did manage to finish with 16 points and 10 rebounds for another double-double. Tristan still needs an awful lot of work on his game, but somehow he shows moments where he makes a big play.
  • 6 of 20 – I don’t want to be too hard on Dion Waiters. He played really hard, showed some good defense and hustle down the stretch, made free throws and came up with big drives down the stretch for the Cavaliers. But in a game where you expected him to pick up Kyrie’s slack, Dion was just woeful from the field, going 6 for 20. Through three quarters he showed some of his bad habits, including some pretty questionable shot selection.
  • 0 – Not that it’s surprising anymore, but Anthony Bennett went 0 for 4 from the field in 11 minutes for 0 points along with 3 fouls and 2 turnovers. The Anthony Bennett experiment simply isn’t working. The young rookie isn’t developing whatsoever and every time he puts a couple plays or games together where you think maybe he’s improving, he takes about 5 steps back. His confidence is shattered and his body language is just all wrong. The guy is lost and the Cavaliers need to rethink their strategy. It’s probably time to send Anthony to the D-League and let him play more minutes and rediscover his confidence.

There’s really not much more to say about this game. It was ugly, embarrassing, frustrating, and ultimately, exciting. There shouldn’t be much satisfaction gained from beating the Magic at home, but still, the reality is the Cavaliers had an imposing deficit and no Kyrie Irving to rescue them. But they found a way to work hard and get back into the game and with a little luck, they forced overtime and secured the win. The Cavaliers have lost so many frustrating games where they’ve had a chance down the stretch and couldn’t get it done. It’s nice for once to win one of these games, no matter what the circumstances or who the opponent was. Take it for what its worth.


Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images

  • The_Matt_Of_Akron

    Defense did it for them, just look at Andy. Time to start believing fellas…


    Time to cut bait with Bennett. Either he discovers himself in Canton and can somehow parlay that confidence into next year’s training camp (unlikely) or we can just wash our hands of this jamoke without having him count against the cap in years to come. I think the only obstacle in front of this scenario is Gilbert’s reticence to admit that Grant and Brown are utterly inadequate hires. Either way #TankStrong.

  • Lunch

    So that explains why I’m hearing laughter from Dan Gilbert, Chris Grant, and Mike Brown. Sounds likely that they are going to ignore your suggestion. But now if I understand your statement correctly, your basically saying that Bennett should take the same route as Danny Green, correct? After all he could end up just like you said, OR he may develop into the player worthy of being selected with the 1st. pick on some other team, thanks to basketball trainers and mentors that remain patient in Bennett’s development. I would like to see what happens and not “cut bait” on him after just 32 games. #WinStrong.

  • Foghorn Leghorn

    I strongly suspect you didnt watch this game. The Cavs look horrible. Absolutely awful. I see no hope for this team, Kyrie or not.

  • Matthew Grant Anson

    This game was ridiculous, 79-70 and I started putting on my shoes to go to dinner. So glad I didn’t.

  • Yup

    Actually the author is incorrect. Bennett had been playing well the last 5 games. He took a step back today but to say he “isn’t developing whatsoever” is ludicrous! Look at Olidiapo tonight! He is considered to be the top rookie (along with MCW) this year and he made almost no impact in the game tonight and is averaging like 12 points this season! This whole class will need to be given time, as in years! At least 3 before we draw any conclusions. Come on…

  • I genuinely admire the author of this comment’s unwavering confidence in this team. It’s quite impressive how he can continue to tell us all how great these players are and how everything is fine, we just need more time. I wish I shared his rosy optimism.

    As for Oladipo, he’s been really bad in 4 of his last 5 games now. But I’m not sure what he has to do with Bennett. Nothing in this article said anything about either player’s long term potential. But I do disagree on Bennett right now. I’m not sure how anyone can say he’s played “well” recently. He’s been marginally better. But I think he’s still playing quite poorly and looks lost. I think the best way for him to get back on track in his current development is to spend some time in Canton getting back in touch with his game. Nobody is making any “conclusions” now. Just breaking down his development right now.

  • The_Matt_Of_Akron

    So if it wasn’t Varejao’s rebounding and Dellavedova forcing turnovers that helped energize the 17-2 run, what was it? I agree the game was awful, but when they buckled down and played tough D, the results spoke for themselves.

  • The_Matt_Of_Akron

    Ah, maybe it wasn’t clear that I was speaking to the players. That they need to follow Andy’s example and start believing that playing defense will help win ball games.

    You are right that we (Cavs fans) fellas haven’t seen enough to start believing in them yet.

  • mgbode

    I think they are two months late on sending him to Canton. Get him in NBA shape and learn to utlize his toolset. Until that happens he is nothing but an anchor on the team.

    I also think Dleague should be used more as a whole to develop players.


    That’s a fair point you make, but Danny Green is a shooting guard, not an overweight and short power forward.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I wish it was as easy as believing the simple fact is Orlando isn’t exactly a beast in the east. The Cavaliers were horrible until late in the fourth but you have to admit the Magic did a lot to help. Fouling Jack for 3 foul shots, a 90% free throw shooter missing a pair and some terrible shot attempts. Kyrie was out but so was Vucevic for Orlando.

  • I agree with all of that. I wish there wasn’t such a stigma on players going to the D-League. There’s no crime in going somewhere to develop skillsets to help people succeed.

  • cmm13

    “basketball trainers and mentors” for a number one overall selected pick is the best joke i’ve heard all day, thank you.

  • cmm13

    I am upticking you mgbode because I like you and agree that the the D league overall could be used much more effectively for actual development of NBA players.
    But…. we are talking about the number one overall selected pick in the draft…. the mere fact that we are talking about sending him to the D league should have Grant on the sidewalk.

  • Rick Manning

    I admit I turned this game off with 15 seconds left, I figured the Cavs would need a whole quarter to score 7 points the way they were going. I was pleasantly shocked an hour later when I checked for the final score and saw that we won.

    That said, this was an awful and ugly performance. Luckily Orlando is just as bad if not worse.

    And Anthony Bennett is the worst NBA player that I’ve ever seen. Jay Guidinger could punk this dude. I know it was a weak draft but this pick was inexcusable. I realize that its early and he may become a decent player with some development, but you cant take project players with the #1 pick. If this doesnt get Chris Grant fired I don’t know what will.

  • Pat Leonard

    Just to nit pick, this is a pet peeve of mine. He’s not really short. Standing reach is average for power forwards… that’s about all that matters. How high his head sits doesn’t matter much.



  • Anthony V.

    Is Earl Clark really giving you that much… Start Bennett at the 3 and see what happens…

  • Pat Leonard

    I think for right now, Earl at the 3 and Bennett at the 4 is the right move. Bennett doesn’t have the shooting that you want from a wing player and defensively he can’t keep up with 3s… they burn him too easily. Ideally Clark would be the backup 4, but the Cavs just don’t have any real 3s on the roster.

  • Yup

    What is has to do with is FREAKIN CONTEXT, something you clearly seem to have trouble with in your haranguing of Bennett. Let me give you a fact (which will be one more than you gave in your assessment of Bennett): Oladipo shot 38.3% in December. Anthony Bennett shot 36.8%.

    So, my point STANDS. Bennett is barely below the guy many people consider the top rookie and the player MANY in Cleve thought we should pick in the draft.

    You can only fairly compare Bennett to his draft class at this point. Btw, McClemore went 0-5 last night…