Cavaliers 87, Magic 81 (OT): Orlando collapses late, drops winnable game in Cleveland

Earl Clark and Jameer Nelson - Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando led by 10 points in the fourth quarter, but couldn't hold on against the Cavaliers.

The Orlando Magic let a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter slip away, as it lost a winnable road game in Cleveland, 87-81, in overtime. Orlando led by seven points with 50 seconds remaining but couldn't close out the feisty Cavaliers.

Cavaliers guard Dion Waiters blew past Arron Afflalo for a game-tying layup with under a second remaining in regulation. That bucket gave Cleveland momentum as it owned the overtime period, never trailing Orlando in the extra five minutes.

Waiters contributed 17 points off the bench. Anderson Varejao led all scorers with 18 points and he also collected 25 rebounds. Glen Davis led Orlando with 16 points and 13 rebounds. He also blocked blocked shots--the team, as a whole, blocked 12 on the game, even without Nikola Vucevic, who missed Thursday night with a sprained left ankle.

The Magic got a lift off the bench from Andrew Nicholson, who had not scored in double-figures in the last seven games prior to Thursday night. However, his recent slump didn't hamper his ambitions. The St. Bonaventure product looked confident, scoring 12 points on a mix of post moves and spot up opportunities

The first half was a bloody mess disguised as basketball. Both teams shot poorly, with the Magic registering a 38.5 percent clip from the field and the Cavaliers out-shooting them, just barely, at 40 percent. There were also 16 combined turnovers and 18 accumulated fouls. That mixture creates a poor basketball environment--one that's a little rough on the eyes.

Harris, the game's leading scorer to that point, notched 10 first half points, scoring four of his five buckets from inside the paint. Never shy to attack in transition, the third-year forward scored on a flurry of runners and open rim runs on the break and he also knocked down a mid-range shot on a broken play.

The second half, however, was more eventful.

The lead seesawed back in Orlando's favor early in the third quarter as a Glen Davis left-handed flip shot capped off a 7-0 run. Moments later, the Cavaliers went on a 9-0 run, topped off by a C.J. Miles corner-three. The Magic answered with a 9-0 run of their own, taking a 62-57 lead heading into the final 12 minutes. Jameer Nelson played the entire quarter, scoring eight points and dishing out five assists.

The Magic's lead ballooned to 10 points, 72-62, midway through the fourth quarter. But the Cavaliers fought back with Waiters cutting Orlando's lead to two with 10 seconds remaining. E'Twaun Moore--who is shooting 90.5 percent from the stripe on the season--missed two straight free throw attempts, giving Cleveland the ball with a chance to tie or win the game.

Waiters took Afflalo off the dribble and finished an easy layup at the rim to tie the game at 79 with 0.6 seconds remaining. Nelson's fall-away three pointer hit off the back rim on the other end, sending the game to overtime.

Cleveland's lead spiked to four points in overtime after Anderson Varejao knocked down a mid-range jumper. Moments later Davis was called for an offensive foul, giving the Cavaliers the ball, up four, with just under 50 seconds remaining. Cleveland closed out the game rather easily, something Orlando was unable to do at the end of regulation.

Other notes:

  • This game featured two teams who came in Thursday with a 10-21 record. That in itself is uninspiring, but two of the game's top players--Nikola Vucevic and Kyrie Irving--were both out with injury.
  • Victor Oladipo played just five minutes in the first half and was unable to register a point in that time. He recorded nearly 16 minutes in the second half, managing just six points and four rebounds in that time.
  • Nelson and Varejao appeared to have banged knees midway through the fourth quarter. Nelson was on the ground for a little bit, but neither guy was seriously injured.
  • Harris, who led all scorers in the first half with 10 points, registered just 10 minutes of playing time in the second half.
  • The game broke Cleveland's six-game losing streak and is Orlando's second straight loss.
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