It may have been a game that neither fan base wanted to win. But the Magic opened the game as if they really wanted to win it. And the Cavs closed the game as if they really wanted to win it.
In the end, it was the Orlando Magic who were victorious, holding on for a 109-104 win after allowing the Cavs to erase a 23-point fourth quarter lead.
While the result of the game won’t exactly be celebrated in the current “When you win, you lose. When you lose, you win.” state of the lottery-bound Magic. But all will agree it was a welcome sight to see Cole Anthony emerge as a closer down the stretch, attacking the rim and converting high-pressure, high-degree of difficulty shots to seal the Magic win, snapping a six-game losing streak.
With the W, the Magic improve to 19-43 while the Cavs fall to 21-41 in the race to the bottom three.
Chuma Okeke continued to show that his shooting woes are behind him, but exited late in the fourth after stepping on a defender’s foot and suffering a sprained ankle.
Okeke had gotten off to a quick start with eight points in the first, hitting a pair of early threes in the quarter.
Gary Harris knocked down a deep step-back jumper to spark a 9-2 Magic run to close the first, giving them a 26-16 advantage. Orlando shot 47.6 percent in the quarter, going 4 of 8 from deep, while assisting on 9 of their 10 field goals. The lead would have been larger had it not been for Orlando’s six turnovers, or if they were about to box out Jarrett Allen.
Allen led the Cavs in the first with 8 points and 5 rebounds, three offensive. Cleveland shot just 27.3 percent in the first, missing all eight of their three-point attempts.
The Magic lead grew to 13 when Dwayne Bacon opened the second with a three-point play.
A 10-2 run by the Cavs, capped with threes by Damyean Dotson and Mfiondu Kabengele, pulled the Cavs within 33-32. Mo Bamba responded by hitting a three, and on the next Magic possession, putting the ball on the floor and finishing with the left hand to give the Magic a 38-34 lead. The two teams mostly traded baskets until a late 7-0 run by the Magic, capped with a Gary Harris three, helped send Orlando into the half with a 50-44 lead.
Harris and Bacon each had nine points at the half to lead the Magic, who shot 44.2 percent.
Okeke quickly helped the Magic rebuild their double-digit lead in the third, showing off his offesive arsenal. He began with a deep pullup jumper, then used an in-and-out dribble to go around a screen for the driving layup, then knocked down a three as the Magic lead grew to 59-47.
The lead continued to grow, reaching 17 when Cole Anthony tracked down a rebound in traffic and made a quick pass downcourt to Harris for the dunk and 67-51 lead.
Chasson Randle drilled a three with seconds remaining, capping a quarter in which the Magic outscored the Cavs 32-17 and shot 58 percent to take an 82-61 lead.
It reached 23 before the Cavs went on a 25-7 run in the fourth, with a three by Darius Garland cutting the Magic’s lead to 93-88 with 4:42 left. The Magic pushed the lead back to eight with Anthony hitting a tough left-handed up-and-under...
The Cavs then went on a 9-2 run by capitalizing on some Orlando turnovers to get within one. Harris answered with a drive and layup, and at the other end, Kevin Love hit a three to fully erase a 23-point lead and tie it at 104 with 1:03 to go.
That set the stage for Anthony, who again attacked the basket, going right at Allen, and banked in a tough off-balance shot over the seven-footer.
The Magic, who held on despite allowing the Cavs to score 43 points in the fourth, shot 50.6 percent from the field.
Anthony scored 12 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter. Harris led Orlando with 19 points. Okeke added 18 points on 7-for-12 shooting (3 of 6 from deep). Okeke remained in the game after stepping on Cedi Osman’s foot while drawing the foul, despite being in obvious pain. Okeke took his free throws before checking out seconds later and limping to the bench.
(1/2) Tyrone Corbin on Chuma Okeke's rolled left ankle: "He's in getting some treatment now. He limped off and took his shoe off walking down the hall and coming into the locker room. So hopefully it's not serious. He twisted his ankle pretty good, but hopefully we'll find ...— Josh Robbins (@JoshuaBRobbins) April 29, 2021
Moe Wagner, fresh off signing with Orlando for the remainder of the season, checked in early in the second quarter for his Magic debut. He had 2 points in nine minutes, but did grab a crucial offensive rebound as the Cavs were making their run.
The Magic now have 10 games remaining in this can’t-end-soon-enough season, starting with a home-and-home against the Grizzlies on Friday and Saturday.