The Cleveland Cavaliers went into Orlando to battle the Magic Tuesday night. Coming into this game, Cleveland still had an outside shot of being one of the top six teams in the East.
The Cavs trailed by 10 in the fourth but made a furious rally and had a chance to tie, but Lauri Markkanen missed a three with 48.8 seconds to go, and the Magic defeated the Cavs 120-115 at Amway Center.
Mo Bamba led the way for the Magic with 20 points, 12 rebounds, and six blocks; Orlando had eight players in double figures.
Cleveland(43-37) is now locked into the Play-In Tournament and has last two straight and seven of their last nine, while the Magic(21-59) snapped a six-game losing streak.
Here’s the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ loss to the Magic.
The Great for the Cavs:
-Darius Garland had game-highs of 27 points and 10 assists, to go along with six rebounds and two steals.
-Lauri Markkanen added 25 points, including a season-high-tying six threes. He also added two blocks.
-Kevin Love had a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds off the bench, and he made a little history as he moved into 9th on Cavs’ all-time scoring list, surpassing Larry Nance Sr.
The Not So Great for the Cavs:
Defense: What was a strength for this team earlier in the season is now a liability. They allowed the Magic, who are last in points per game, to score 120 points on 51% shooting from the floor, including 46%(16-35) from deep. Unacceptable!!
Third Quarter: After finishing the second quarter on a 7-0 run, the Cavs led 61-59 at halftime. With the game tied at 69 with just under eight minutes in the quarter, Orlando went on an 11-4 run to take their largest lead in the third quarter at 80-73. The Magic shot 52% in the quarter and outscored the Cavs 32-25 to take a 91-86 lead into the fourth.
Second Chance Points: The Cavs allowed the Magic to have success on the offensive glass. Orland had 20-second chance points Tuesday night.
If we had said at the beginning of the season that the Cavs would make the Play-In Tournament, most Cavs fans would have signed up for that. However, after the great start this team had, being in the Play-In Tournament is a disappointment.
This loss was unacceptable, inexcusable, and just downright bad! You can’t lose to the Magic when you have so much at stake. We know the Cavs are banged up, but it’s not like they lost to the Suns or Heat; they lost to the Magic.
The seventh-seeded Cavs now must try to stay at seven, so if necessary, they’ll have two home games to win one in the Play-In Tournament, but it won’t be easy.
Cleveland has to play the eighth-seeded Nets(41-38) in Brooklyn Friday night. If the Nets defeat the Knicks Wednesday night, they would be one game behind the Cavs and could tie Cleveland with a win Friday night. In addition, Brooklyn, who leads the season series 2-1, would hold the tiebreaker with a victory.
Furthermore, Cleveland finishes the season at home against the Bucks, who probably will have something to play for, so that won’t be easy.
Also, the ninth-seeded Hawks(41-38) are also 1.5 games behind the Cavs, and the Hawks, like the Nets, play Wednesday night as they host the Wizards. Atlanta won the season series from the Cavs and would hold the tiebreaker if those two teams ended up tied in the standings.
Again, this was a bad loss!!
“Tonight, time and time again, they outworked us,” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “Give them credit, but it’s disappointing. We didn’t get the job done. We didn’t show the fight that we needed to show.”
Cleveland heads to Brooklyn to battle the Nets Friday night.
Best of the Rest:
-The Cavs had six players in double figures.
-Moses Brown had his third double-double in four games as he had 10 points and 12 rebounds.
-Ignas Brazdeikis had 20 points for the Magic off the bench. Every player that came off Orlando’s bench scored in double figures.