Tony Dejak, Associated Press
CLEVELAND — Hard as he tried, Stan Van Gundy just couldn't bring himself to enjoy Orlando's win.
The hard-to-please Magic coach was in one of those foul moods.
Dwight Howard scored 28 points with 18 rebounds and he and Brandon Bass were way too much for Cleveland's smallish frontline to handle as the Magic rolled to a 97-86 win Monday night over the Cavaliers, whose fourth-quarter comeback irritated Van Gundy.
Standing in the hallway outside Orlando's locker room, Van Gundy was asked what he took from the win. His answers were terse.
"Nothing," he said. "We got a win and that's what we take from it. We got a win, and we're moving on. This one is done."
With the Cavs unable to stop Howard near the basket, the Magic built a 15-point lead in the first quarter and were up by 26 late in the third. However, Cleveland fought back and closed within 92-83 before Hedo Turkoglu's 3-pointer with 2:56 left put Orlando back in control.
The Magic won their third straight and pulled within 3½ games of Miami for the No. 3 playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
That was of little value to Van Gundy, who was upset with his team's 20 turnovers and inability to put Cleveland away.
"You only play 82 games a year," Van Gundy said. "It shouldn't be hard to go out and play hard and well all the time. We've seen ebbs and flows, but I don't have an excuse for it. We turned the ball over too much and we didn't play with a lot of energy."
The Magic swept all four games against the Cavaliers, winning the season series for the first time since 2002-03. The teams met each other in the playoffs in 2009, a tight series Orlando won in six games. Their feud figured to continue, but it dissolved the moment LeBron James left Cleveland.
Fierce rivals just a year ago, Orlando and Cleveland are now on opposite ends of the NBA spectrum.
"It is different now," Howard said. "It's weird."
J.J. Hickson scored 18 and Daniel Gibson 16 for the Cavs, who have dropped three straight and nine of 11.
Bass added 22 points for Orlando, and combined with Howard to go 18 of 21 from the floor against a Cavs team lacking a legitimate inside game.
Howard added four assists, four blocks, four steals and the All-Star center went a shocking 10 of 12 from the free throw line. He's made only 58 percent of his foul shots this season. Following the game, Howard handed fans his sneakers and arm sleeves and tossed his jersey into the crowd.
"He's a great player," Cavs coach Byron Scott said. "His flaw is obviously from the line but he is athletic, strong, big and fast. He's dominant."
When Howard went out with 1:49 left in the third, the Magic were up by 22 and even Van Gundy seemed somewhat pleased. Howard slapped hands with Orlando's assistant coaches and it appeared his night was over early. But Bass picked up his fifth personal and Van Gundy had to put Howard back in.
The Cavs began knocking down shots and made it interesting in the fourth. They closed within nine on Christian Eyenga's 3-pointer. But Turkoglu ended the comeback bid with his 3 from deep in the left corner.
While Van Gundy was unhappy, Howard believes the Magic are in a good place.
"We're a team that's headed toward making a great playoff run," Howard said. "We have all the talent. We've got a great team. We have to bring it every night."
At halftime, the Magic led by 18 and were on cruise control. Howard, Bass and Ryan Anderson were a combined 17 of 20 with 42 points, 19 rebounds and eight dunks.
- BYU earns NCAA at-large bid; will face Oregon...
- Breaking down the field: A look at the 68...
- Jimmer Fredette thinks Bulls give him ideal...
- BYU's NCAA tournament fate: 'Anything could...
- BYU's No. 10 seed surprises national media
- Dick Harmon: BYU's Kyle Collinsworth already...
- Utes headed to NIT game at Saint Mary's
- Brad Rock: Weber State's NCAA bid makes Rahe...
- Minute-by-minute: How Utah and USU lost... 114
- Utah basketball: Utes outlast... 89
- BYU earns NCAA at-large bid; will face... 80
- Utah basketball: Utes get 'punched in... 75
- BYU basketball: Kyle Collinsworth has... 44
- Utes headed to NIT game at Saint Mary's 31
- Utah basketball: Runnin' Utes advance... 30
- Bubble watch: BYU playing the waiting game 20