Published January 08, 2015
(SportsNetwork.com) - LeBron James will try to get his Cleveland Cavaliers back on track Friday night when they visit the Amway Center to take on the Orlando Magic.
James' return to South Beach did not go as planned. In his first game in Miami against the Heat since spurning them this summer to return to Cleveland, James and company fell on Christmas, 101-91.
James, who helped the Heat to a quartet of NBA Finals appearances and a pair of titles during his four-year stay with Miami, was the first Cleveland player introduced out of its starting five.
"I think these fans are great," James said. "They always showed their loyalty."
He was greeted with a standing ovation with a scattering of boos, but James wasn't able to fully sink in the reaction as public-address announcer Michael Baiamonte quickly went through the rest of Cleveland's lineup.
The cheer was more elongated midway through the opening frame when the Heat played a video tribute. James acknowledged the applause by waving to the crowd.
"A lot of emotions come back," James said. "I spent four years here with those guys. Some guys (are) still here, some guys are not here. We put in a lot of hard work and dedication just to be the best we could."
James finished with 30 points and eight assists, but Dwyane Wade shot a blistering 10-of-16 in the first half, helping the Heat build a margin as high as 17 in the opening 24 minutes.
This was the first game for the Cavs since center Anderson Varejao went down with an Achilles injury. Kevin Love slid over to the center spot and finished with 14. Kyrie Irving scored 25 points on 10-for-19 shooting.
The Magic stopped a four-game losing streak on Tuesday with a five-point victory over the Boston Celtics. Orlando is 2-6 in its last eight, but survived against Boston, 100-95.
Tobias Harris scored 19 points, and Kyle O'Quinn and Nikola Vucevic each recorded double-doubles. The Magic won despite nearly blowing a 27-point lead in the fourth quarter. They were held to 15 points over the last 10 minutes, but did just enough to snap a four-game slide.
O'Quinn and Vucevic each provided 18 points and combined for 25 rebounds. Elfrid Payton added 12 points as the Magic were able to hold off a rally spurred on by former Orlando star, Jameer Nelson.
"We let up...but we somehow found a way," O'Quinn said.
The Cavaliers beat the Magic by 32 in Cleveland on Nov. 24 and have taken eight in a row in this series. The Cavs have emerged victorious in their last three trips to Orlando.