Cavaliers-Magic Preview

After LeBron James' plans for a successful return to Miami were spoiled, the Cleveland Cavaliers will simplify things and settle for a road win of any kind.

A visit to Orlando on Friday night could end a three-game road skid, while the Magic attempt to finish with a split of their four-game homestand.

In their first full game without Anderson Varejao on Thursday, the Cavs (17-11) lost 101-91 to the Heat. James scored 30 points and Kyrie Irving added 25, but Kevin Love was limited to 14 on 5-of-13 shooting with five rebounds in his first game at center.

Once the spectacle of his return to South Beach had passed, James was candid about where the Cavs stand at the moment. They've gone 4-4 over the last two weeks while allowing opponents to shoot 49.0 percent.

"We're not that good right now," said James, who is averaging 28.1 points and shooting 55.9 percent over his last eight games. "We've won some really good games, we've lost some games, but we're not that good right now."

Cleveland can now fully focus on that rather than the hype surrounding its Christmas date with the Heat - a distraction which coach David Blatt understands.

"You just can't look past that because you want to," Blatt said. "That's going to happen. You just have to try to roll with it."

The first order of business for Blatt is likely how to move on without his starting center. Varejao is out for the season after suffering a torn left Achilles in Tuesday's win over Minnesota, leaving the Cavs in search of answers in the post.

Love has had a down season as it is, shooting 43.5 percent as he adjusts to a new team, but he's made just 34.9 percent over the last four for an average of 12.0 points.

Irving, meanwhile, was 10 of 19 against the Heat and is averaging 23.7 points while shooting 58.8 percent in the last three.

While the visit to Miami stole headlines, it might be this meeting with the Magic (11-20) the Cavs were most looking forward to during their Florida stay.

They've won eight straight in the series, including a 106-74 victory Nov. 24 in Cleveland. James scored a game-high 29 points in his ninth straight win over Orlando. The loss marked the Magic's worst scoring and shooting night of the season at 36.3 percent.

Things were better Tuesday in a 100-95 home win over Boston that ended their third four-game losing streak of the season. The problem was that Orlando allowed a 27-point lead to slip to three and was outscored 35-15 in the fourth.

"We'll continue to improve," coach Jacque Vaughn said. "What I do love about this group is we lost multiple games in a row and we kept a team to 30 points in the first half. So while you can definitely look at some negative, we'll pull some positive out of this also."

The Magic got double-doubles from Kyle O'Quinn (18 points, 13 rebounds) and Nikola Vucevic (18 and 12), while Tobias Harris scored a team-high 19.

O'Quinn and Harris missed the Cleveland game last month, but it could take plenty more improvement for them to hang with the Cavs.

"It's back to the drawing board because we let this one slip, so we can't enjoy it too much," O'Quinn told the team's official website.

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