Despite the loss, Cavs’ Bickerstaff happy with team’s effort against Magic

For three quarters, the Cleveland Cavaliers(21-41) were getting blown out by the Orlando Magic(19-43) on Wednesday night. Cleveland trailed 82-61 entering the fourth quarter.

Then, they finally woke.

The Cavaliers scored 43 points in the fourth quarter, and at one point, the lead swelled to 23 points in the final quarter, but Cleveland implemented a full-court press, which sped up the Magic, forced turnovers, and got them back into the game. Cleveland went on a 41-18 run to tie the score at 104 after a Kevin Love three with just over a minute left in the game. However, Orlando’s Cole Anthony would score four of the team’s final five points as the Magic would snap their six-game losing streak and defeat Cleveland 109-104 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

Cavs’ Darius Garland had 25 points, 10 assists, four steals, and Jarrett Allen added 17 points and 13 rebounds, while Gary Harris paced the Magic with 19 points, and Anthony had 18 points.

The Cavs woke up, but it was too little, too late. Cleveland was again down seven players, including Collin Sexton(concussion) and Larry Nance Jr.(thumb). Despite the loss, Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff was happy with the fight Cleveland showed against Orlando.

‘Down bodies, down points, and they still found a way to come out and give us all they had in the fourth quarter when they all were exhausted,” Bickerstaff said. “No moral victories, but again, it speaks to the character of our guys.”

Cleveland picked up the intensity on defense, and they used a full-court press, which was very effective. The Cavaliers forced six Magic turnovers, which led to 12 points, and after the game, Bickerstaff explained why he went to the press.

“We needed to find some sort of a spark,” he said. “And we went to that full-court press, and obviously, it gave us a lift.”

With 10 games left, Cleveland is pretty much playing for pride at this point, and they showed a lot of that against Orlando. The Cavaliers hope to snap their four-game losing streak on Friday night against the Wizards.

Notes:

-On Wednesday, Cleveland announced that they have signed G Jeremiah Martin to a two-way contract. The 24-year-old Martin spent the 2020-21 NBA G League season with the Long Island Nets, playing in 15 games (all starts) and averaging 18.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 2.4 steals in 31.8 minutes. He was previously a two-way player with the Brooklyn Nets during the 2019-20 season.

-Taurean Prince underwent left ankle arthroscopic surgery, the team announced on Wednesday. No word on when he will return, but Prince is probably out for the season.

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