|Magic beat Cleveland 100-84, sweep two-game preseason series in China|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 20 October 2007 03:40|
Van Gundy's team beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 100-84 on Saturday, sweeping a two-game preseason series in China between the teams on a special tour to expand the NBA's audience in the country. On Thursday, the Magic pounded a team of Chinese All-Stars 116-92.
``I'm 3-0 in China now and one of the things you always worry about is security in this business,'' Van Gundy said after the game. ``I figure if I get fired in the NBA, I should have a pretty good shot in the CBA'' - the 16-team China Basketball Association.
``There can't be that many guys around who are undefeated in China,'' added Van Gundy, who coached the Miami Heat in 2003-05 before joining the Magic in June.
Cleveland star LeBron James - who scored 14 points Saturday while sitting out the fourth quarter - was also a fan of China, but he wasn't ready to see the country as a Plan B if his promising NBA career fizzles out.
``I've been to China numerous times, so I knew what to expect. The game of basketball around here, the fans respect the game so much. It's great to see that.''
The NBA teams squared off first in Shanghai, then they flew to the casino city of Macau off China's southern coast. They played before a packed house of 11,572 in the new arena at the Venetian Macao Resort Hotel. Macau, a former Portuguese enclave known as Asia's Las Vegas, is the only place in China were casino gambling is legal.
The entertainment between quarters during Macau games was an interesting contrast of cultures.
The NBA whipped up the crowd with Orlando's Magic Dancers put on their blue halter tops, raced the length of the court with balls, jumped on springboards and slam dunked.
The audience also went wild when a Chinese woman in a red skirt pedaled a tall unicycle and balanced soup bowls on her head at halftime.
But the real thrill for the fans was to see stars like James and Magic forward Dwight Howard, who led Orlando with 17 points despite sitting out the fourth quarter.
The Cavaliers dominated the first quarter as guards James and Hughes each scored eight points to give Cleveland a 23-30 lead. Howard also had eight points, but struggled at the foul line, making only 2 of 5 attempts.
Orlando charged back in the second quarter and tied the game at 43-43 after Howard was fouled on a fast-break layup and hit the free throw for a three-point play with 25 seconds left in the half. But in the final seconds, the Cavaliers took the lead again at 45-43 after James made two free throws.
But the Magic opened the third period with an alley-oop by Howard, and moved ahead for the first time when forward Hedo Turkoglu made a three-pointer for a 49-47 lead. Turkoglu hit another three-pointer, while forward Pat Garrity and guard J.J. Redick each added 3s and the Magic finished the period leading 71-69. The Cavaliers trailed the rest of the game.
Van Gundy said the third quarter was the best his team has played so far in the preseason.
``We started the game just getting absolutely manhandled on the boards and just throwing the ball all over the building,'' Van Gundy said. ``But then we settled down and got a little more competitive.''
Garrity, guard Keith Bogans and Redick each scored 14 points for Orlando.
Cleveland coach Mike Brown said his starting five did a good job cutting and screening on offense during the first quarter. But he was disappointed with his team's defense.
``Orlando did a terrific job pushing the ball up the floor and getting into the paint, starting their drive-and-kick game and finding open shooters,'' Brown said.
Brown praised James' defense, but said the All-Star still needed to work on his offense.
``One thing he's working hard on is his jump shot, especially from medium range,'' Brown said. ``He can improve his post-up play, which he's doing a terrific job of doing. The sky is the limit for LeBron on the offensive end of the floor.''