MAGIC TAKE THE LOW ROAD
CAVS RUN AWAY WITH 78-63 VICTORY
By L.C. Johnson | Sentinel Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 16, 1997 | @ CLEVELAND
While Rony Seikaly was given the night off to rest his weary ankles, his Orlando Magic teammates also took it easy in a 78-63 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday at Gund Arena.
It boiled down to this: For the Cavaliers (41-39), this was a must-win situation because they still are battling the Washington Bullets for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
''There was a sense of urgency on the part of the Cavaliers, I'm sure,'' Magic coach Richie Adubato said. ''Any team coached by Mike Fratello is going to keep on fighting to the very end.''
As for the Magic (45-35), with their No. 7 playoff spot secure, they had a difficult time getting up for a game that had very little meaning.
''It was tough, but you have to put this all in perspective,'' Penny Hardaway said. ''You know that you don't have a lot to play for and they have everything to play for. But good teams finish the season out strong.
''A lot of guys came into the game very passive. I know I came in passive from the standpoint of trying to get other guys involved in the game. But a lot of guys went in with the attitude that we didn't really need this game.''
Forwards Tyrone Hill and Chris Mills scored 19 points each for the Cavs. Bobby Sura added 14 points, 12 rebounds and 8 assists as Cleveland stayed one game behind the Bullets.
The Magic were led by Horace Grant with 14 points. Nick Anderson scored 11 points and Hardaway added 10 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists as the Magic labored through 37 percent shooting.
''The Cavaliers played excellent defense,'' Adubato said. ''They trapped us, they double-teamed us, they made us pass the ball, they made us shoot the outside shots, and obviously we weren't shooting from the outside very well. We shot 2-of-16 (on 3-pointers).''
The Cavs carried a 17-point lead into the fourth quarter at 65-48, and that brought to mind an earlier meeting in Orlando when the Magic were held to a franchise-record-low 57 points. The 63 points represent the second-lowest score in team history.
''We just didn't have any intensity,'' said Dennis Scott, who was 1-of-8 from the field, including 0-for-5 on 3-pointers, for three points. ''And (the Cavs) are still fighting (for the playoffs). . . . They also have a good defensive scheme. They double-team everybody. But if I would have knocked down a couple of 3s early in the game, we might have been able to put a run together and take the air out of them.''
The Magic did attempt to make it a game by scoring the first nine points of the fourth quarter with a lineup of reserves: Danny Schayes, Derek Strong, Gerald Wilkins, Darrell Armstrong and rookie Brian Evans.
Sura finally broke the Cavs' fourth-quarter drought by hitting two free throws that set off a 7-0 run that pushed Cleveland's lead to 15.
''It seemed like they weren't really going all-out,'' Mills said. ''Horace Grant told me it's a shame some of their guys weren't really playing tonight. A couple of their guys were ticked off.''
Strong started in place of Seikaly. He grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds and scored nine points. Adubato insists Seikaly's absence was not the cause for the loss. It had more to do with Cleveland's ability to outhustle the Magic, resulting in a 48-39 rebounding edge.
''I'm sure that Rony could have played and contributed something for us in the low post, but we had enough people to win the game without him,'' Adubato said. ''We still had Strong, Schayes and Horace. The problem was that we got beat, 48-39, on the boards. There's no excuse for that.''
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