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Magic 116, Cavaliers 98: Simmons crashes LeBron’s party

It was a career night for Jonathon Simmons, who led the Magic to overcome a 21-point deficit.

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Orlando Magic Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It was a record-setting night in Orlando, as the Magic took down LeBron James and the defending Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs lead by as many as 21 points, but were held to a season-low 31 points in the second half – including a nine-point fourth quarter.

The turnaround for Orlando started with the play of Jonathon Simmons in the third quarter, where he scored 22 points – the most by any Magic player since Tracy McGrady on March 10, 2004. Simmons finished with a career-high 34 points, but the most incredible part of his night may’ve been that he was a game-time decision with an ankle injury that he suffered last night in Miami.

“Game-time decision to career-high,” said Frank Vogel with a chuckle, “I’m glad he played, let’s just put it that way. He was terrific. It’s one of those things where it’s really sore and a lot of times once you get into the game, the adrenaline takes over and you don’t feel it as much.”

In addition to Simmons, a big story was the Magic’s defensive effort, which turned up the screws in the second half. After the Cavs scored 67 points in the first, and were scoring at will from the free throw line and three-point arc, they were totally stifled on both fronts in the second half. Cleveland got 12 points at the line in the first half, and only two in the second, while their three-point percentage dropped from 50 percent to 21 percent. Likewise, the Cavs were shooting 53 percent overall, but that percentage dropped to 42 after converting on a paltry 30 percent in after halftime.

After beating the Cavs for the first time since LeBron’s return in their first meeting of the year, the Magic were able to even out the season series at 2-2 on Tuesday night. Even more impressive, the Magic won two blowout victories, while the Cavs won their two games by a combined five points.

The Orlando Magic (17-36) will stay home this week as they take on the Atlanta Hawks (17-37) on Thursday and the Milwaukee Bucks (30-23) on Saturday.