After a close loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, the Orlando Magic faced off against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Quicken Loans Arena. Nikola Vucevic was the top performer for the Magic in the Bucks game and was looking to duplicate that performance with Cleveland missing starting center Anderson Varejao. Tyler Zeller has done a nice job filling in for the Brazilian big man however, and the Cavs were on a five-game win streak coming into last night’s game.
Orlando struggled early on in this one, especially on the offensive end. Unable to score for the first five minutes of the game, the Magic quickly fell to an 18-point deficit. The Cavaliers defense never looked overly effective, but the Magic struggled to break 10 points in the first quarter nonetheless. Orlando got opportunities and put up decent shots, but only hit three total field goals. The game quickly turned lopsided.
Kyrie Irving exploded in the first half and the Magic had no answer for him. Dion Waiters also sat out for the Cavs, but the team did not miss a beat. Orlando tried to chip away at the lead and battle back into the game, but it was an uphill battle and the score going into halftime was 55-36 in favor of the Cavs. Glen Davis went down with an Achilles in the second quarter and did not return. In his absence, Kyle O’Quinn came up big, finishing with 10 points and eight rebounds.
Kyrie Irving started the third quarter by crossing over a couple of Magic defenders and finishing at the basket. Jacque Vaughn may have been expecting some increase in intensity from his squad after the break but that did not happen. Not only was the offense still performing poorly, but the defense in that third period looked lackadaisical as well.
Eventually, the Magic were able to put together run to bring them within eight points about halfway through the third period. This came behind some strong play from Arron Afflalo, who went on his nightly scoring binge.
The fourth quarter began with a score of 72-68 as the Magic were able to overcome the 21-point deficit from the third period. Unfortunately for Orlando, Irving did not let up and gave his team the boost it needed to withstand the Magic efforts and pull through the win. While Orlando was able to cut the lead to two, Cleveland answered with a run of their own in the fourth and it proved to be too much for the Magic to handle. Final score: 101-93.
Magic Game Notes
Kyrie Irving plays like an All-Star MVP
Irving was coming off an MVP performance in the All-Star Game and his confidence has not simmered. In the early going Kyrie outscored the entire Magic squad 10-2. He continued to lead his team offensively and put up big numbers. His final stat line read: 22 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists.
Magic offense struggles mightily
Although Orlando was able to mount a valiant comeback effort, it was obvious the offense struggled. The team only scored 11 points in the first period and shot just 39 percent from the field during the game.
Magic come back but can’t finish
After falling to a 21-point deficit, the Magic were able to string together a couple of runs and found themselves down just two in the fourth quarter. A big third quarter for Orlando was what brought them back into the game, but Orlando could not continue their rhythm and finish the comeback they worked so hard on. It almost seemed as if the Magic let off the gas just as they got within striking distance and Cleveland ran away with the win.
Stat of the Night
Nik Vucevic recorded a double-double, making it his 23rd in the last 27 games.