Cavs Work Magic, Win Sixth Straight
Wrap-Up – On Wednesday night, the Wine and Gold won a game they might have dropped two weeks ago. But this is a team with a newfound confidence and camaraderie, and – despite not having the services of Dion Waiters and Anderson Varejao – took Orlando’s best shot late in regulation and held strong for the 101-93 win, Cleveland’s sixth straight.
All five Cavalier starters notched double-figures, led by All-Star MVP Kyrie Irving, who filled the statsheet with 22 points, seven boards, seven assists and a steal. Tristan Thompson followed up with 16 points and 14 boards. Tyler Zeller, getting the start in place of Varejao – who’s still nursing a sore back – had his second straight strong outing with 16 points, six boards and three of Cleveland’s five blocks. Luol Deng finished with 17 points, including a clutch three-pointer from the corner with 35 seconds remaining to put the game out of reach. Jarrett Jack did a little bit of everything in Wednesday’s win – adding 10 points, six assists, six boards, two steals and a pair of blocked shots.
The Wine and Gold were without Waiters, who was out with a left knee contusion after coming down awkwardly after a monster dunk the previous evening. Varejao missed his fourth straight contest and the Cavaliers lost CJ Miles, who sprained his left ankle with just under nine minutes to play in regulation.
Turning Point – Wednesday’s turning point came after Orlando had sliced Cleveland’s 21-point lead to just a deuce with 2:07 to play. Instead of withering under the Magic’s momentum, Cleveland bounced back – with Tyler Zeller completing an and-1 to bump the lead back to five. Jarrett Jack picked off an Aaron Afflalo pass on the defensive end and the Cavaliers moved the ball precisely on the ensuing possession – resulting in Deng’s dagger from beyond the arc with half-a-minute remaining.
Game Ball – Tristan Thompson – The third-year forward continued to do his blue-collar work for the Wine and Gold, notching his fourth straight double-double and 26th on the season. Cleveland’s iron man, who hasn’t missed a single start in almost two years, was an efficient 5-of-9 from the floor and 6-of-9 from the stripe for his 16 points to go with a game-high 14 rebounds.
By the Numbers – 14 … percentage that the Magic shot from the floor – going 3-of-21 in the first quarter of Wednesday’s win. They scored just 11 points in the period – a season-low in a quarter by a Cavaliers opponent. The Cavs held Orlando to 39 percent shooting on the night and are now 10-1 when holding their opponent under 40 percent shooting.
Quotable – Tyler Zeller, on his teammates encouraging his aggressive play …
”(They’re) kind of keeping me up and trying to make sure I stay aggressive and just try to attack a little bit. It’s just playing with confidence too. You have to be confident that what you’re going to do is the right thing to do and you just have to go with it.”
Up Next – The Cavaliers head north of the border where hometown heroes – Tristan Thompson and Anthony Bennett -- will try to upset their countrymen by running Cleveland’s win streak to seven on Friday night in Toronto. After that, the Wine and Gold return home for a Sunday night meeting with John Wall and the Wizards. It’s a rematch with Toronto at The Q two nights later, followed by a tall order on the road – facing off against Kevin Durant and the heavyweight Thunder next Wednesday night in Oklahoma City.
Watch Highlights: Cavs 101, Magic 93