Magic give Cavs third straight loss

LeBron James posted 33 points, nine rebounds and six assists, and Antawn Jamison bounced back from a dreadful Cav debut with a nice 19-point, eight-rebound effort, but the Magic supporting cast came up big in the fourth quarter to give Orlando a 101-95 win.

Jameer Nelson (18-4-5) and Vince Carter (11-1-3) hit several big shots in the final period, and Rashard Lewis (15-4-2) hit a corner three that sealed the win for the Magic. Dwight Howard (22-16, 4 blks) did his usual damage early on, but Orlando went away from him in the fourth quarter, using a series of Nelson-Carter pick-and-rolls to free Carter up on the block.

Shaq (20-5, 2 blks) had a nice game and was seemingly energized by his feud with Howard about who deserves to have the nickname “Superman.” But with both big men such poor foul shooters, neither team threw the ball inside much in the fourth quarter.

Jamison proved his worth with a nine-point spurt to start the third quarter that gave the Cavs the lead. He’s going to be fine in Cleveland’s offense once he gets comfortable. He’s a tough cover for most power forwards, but as Jeff Van Gundy noted, he’s not nearly as tough to defend when he’s playing small forward. (The same goes for Rashard Lewis, who is far more productive at PF.)

LeBron, coming off of back-to-back losses, seemed especially grumpy today, and was complaining just about every time he took the ball to the hoop and didn’t get the call. I think he has entered what I call the “Kobe Zone,” the convergence of talent and ego where a player thinks he can’t be stopped without a foul, so every failed drive to the basket finishes with some signal to the officials that they missed the call. LeBron took the ball into Dwight Howard twice — once in the first half and once in the fourth quarter — and both times he lit into the refs. On the first play, Howard was planted in the middle of the lane and LeBron clipped him as he went by, and it was a good no-call. The fourth quarter no-call consisted of LeBron taking it directly into Howard’s body and raised arms as Howard retreated towards the basket. The ball got knocked out of bounds and LeBron made his sour pickle face and screamed at the refs.

But if the Cavs want an answer for what went wrong today, they need to look at their backcourt. Mo Williams (1-9), Anthony Parker (1-4) and Delonte West (2-9) combined to go 4-22 (18%) from the field, and that’s not going to get it done.

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