In midst of a rough opening stretch to the season, the Orlando Magic traveled to Cleveland to take on the Cavaliers in hopes of notching their first win of the season. Trailing much of the night, the Magic showed some signs of life in the fourth, but couldn’t fully claw their way back, falling to the Cavaliers 107-99.
After looking sluggish for much of the night against the Pistons on Friday, the Magic came out with a better energy level early against the defending champs. While still stagnant at times, the Magic’s offense found some slightly flow early, getting some good looks in the half court. However, despite some better play offensively, they were unable to capitalize, allowing clean looks to the Cavaliers on many possessions. Despite spurts of improving play, the Magic struggled to hang with the Cavs, trailing 33-20 after one.
As was the case on Friday night, the second quarter caused the Magic fits. Cleveland started the quarter by quickly pushing the lead out to 20, topping out at 22 throughout the quarter, with the Magic defense struggling to keep Cleveland out of the paint, allowing them to kick out for open three pointers. LeBron James made his presence felt throughout the quarter, throwing dazzling, pinpoint passes, while also knocking down a backbreaking four point play to push the champs lead back to 20, ending any momentum the Magic were hoping to build. After 24 minutes, the Cavaliers held a comfortable 62-45 lead against the woeful Magic.
Out of halftime, the Magic offense became bogged down, struggling to find any momentum. While the Cavaliers struggled to get anything going of their own on the offensive end, the Magic’s inability to string together buckets kept them down around 20 points the entire quarter. As the quarter wound down, the Magic looked to be slowly grabbing some momentum, going on a 6-0 run to cut the lead to 16, before a loose ball foul on D.J. Augustin saw the Cavaliers finish the quarter with an 18 point lead. With 12 minutes to go, the Magic trailed the Cavaliers 80-62.
With the game firmly in the Cavaliers control, things looked bleak for the Magic heading into the fourth quarter. However, with their reserves in, led by Augustin and Bismack Biyombo, the Magic began to make a run. Behind a set of three’s from Augustin, Jeff Green, and Mario Hezonja, the Magic suddenly found themselves fully entrenched in the game once again. Augustin used his craftiness to weave his way to the basket, scoring on a pair of acrobatic layups, adding another three pointer as well to score 11 in the quarter.
Down by as many as 22, the Magic suddenly found themselves down just three, thanks to the hot shooting and much improved play on the defensive end. A pair of J.R. Smith three-pointers, one of which was answered by a three from Evan Fournier, helped stabilize a suddenly struggling Cavalier side. A pair of buckets from LeBron seemingly put the game on ice for the Cavs, before Serge Ibaka tried to single handedly bring the Magic back. Smith ended any hopes of that with his third three in the quarter with 31 seconds to go.
LeBron led the way for the Cavaliers, finishing with 23 on the night. Kevin Love added 19, with Kyrie Irving finishing with 20. Smith finished the night with 14, with nine coming in the clutch off a set of three-pointers.
Fournier led a group of Magic men in double figures with 22. Serge Ibaka finished with 19, and showed some signs of life late, with Augustin adding 13 off the bench. Nikola Vucevic finished with 11 points. Green added a double-double off the bench, finishing with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Elfrid Payton also finished in double figures with 10.