Arron Afflalo, Kyrie Irving, and Nik Vucevic - Eric P. Pull - USA Today Sports
Orlando welcomed back leading scorer Arron Afflalo to the starting lineup, and he helped jump-start the offense, but the Magic's defense was nowhere to be found in yet another loss.
Cleveland Cavaliers All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving scored 15 of his 24 points in the second half, along with 8 assists on the game, to lead his team past the visiting Orlando Magic, 119-108, on Friday night. Irving's contributions were more than enough to overcome a career-high 25 points, along with 13 rebounds, from Orlando center Nik Vucevic.
Orlando outshot Cleveland 52.2% to 48.8%, and outscored the Cavs 98-85 from the field, while outrebounding Cleveland 39-32, which might lead one to think the Magic should have won the game. But, as has been a recurring theme for the Magic this season, their lack of free throw attempts and not forcing opponents' turnovers really was the killer for them tonight. Cleveland attempted 41 free throws to Orlando's 13, and outscored the Magic 34-10 from the charity stripe, including 22-4 in the second half. Orlando forced just six Cleveland turnovers, while the Magic committed 19.
The Cavaliers were by far the more aggressive team, which is why they had such an edge on free throws, plus their transition game also was too much for the Magic to handle, as they outscored the Magic 20-7 on fast-break points.
The Cleveland bench was also a big factor, as they outscored the Magic reserves 51-15. Marreese Speights and Wayne Ellington combined for 32 points, with Speights perfect in a career-high 12 free throw attempts.
Vucevic had 15 points and 10 rebounds at the half, and Afflalo had 14 points, as the teams were tied at 56. The Magic outrebounded the Cavaliers 23-13 in the first half, including holding Cleveland to just one offensive rebound. Rookie shooting guard Dion Waiters led Cleveland with 13 first-half points, power forward Tristan Thompson had 10 points, and Irving had 9 points along with 6 rebounds.
Orlando had a 80-77 lead with 2:24 remaining in the third quarter after a Vucevic putback, but the Cavaliers went on a 13-0 run to lead 90-80 with under 11 minutes remaining in the game, and never lost the lead afterwards. The Magic did not give up, to their credit, as Josh McRoberts and Jameer Nelson hit 3s to cut the Cavs lead to six. Orlando made five 3s in the final quarter to attempt to stay in the game.
It was a 106-101 Cavaliers' lead with 4:26 remaining when Irving drove in for a spectacular layup to up the lead to seven, and that effectively put the game away with the Cavaliers going on a 10-3 run to lead by 12 with just over a minute remaining.
Andrew Nicholson finished one point off his career-high, scoring 21 points on 9 of 13 shooting, along with 8 rebounds and 2 blocks in 31 minutes. Maurice Harkless, playing 43 minutes, finished with 9 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 blocks. Nelson finished with a double-double of 15 points and 13 assists, but made just 1 of his first 9 shots and finished 5 of 16 from the field, including 4 of 9 on 3s. Afflalo finished with 23 points on 9 of 17 shooting in his return to the lineup.
Thompson finished with 16 points and Waiters 15 points for Cleveland.
Orlando hosts the Portland Trail Blazers Sunday night.