Magic Rally Past Cool-Shooting Cavs in Second Half

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Wrap-Up -- The Cavaliers are truly a team in search of answers.

And with an opponent that rolled them by 28 points one month ago waiting for them on Wednesday at The Q – and a three-game roadie following that – they’d better figure it out quick.

The Wine & Gold scored 43 points in the first period and led by 16 at half, then proceeded to watch the Magic erase their edge in the third quarter and blow past them in the fourth, snapping Cleveland’s nine-game win streak at the Amway Center and stunning the reeling Cavaliers, 116-98.

Cleveland got progressively worse as the game progressed. The Cavs shot 68 percent from the floor, including 62 percent from deep in the first quarter – with JR Smith drilling four triples and Isaiah Thomas piling up 11 points in the period.

Neither Smith nor Thomas would score the rest of the way. Cleveland then watched Jonathan Simmons score 22 of his career-high 34 points in a third quarter in which the Magic shot 70 percent. Things got even worse in the fourth; Cleveland scored four points through the first ten minutes of the period and were outscored, 24-9.

The Magic came into the contest 20 games under .500, having dropped nine straight home games to the Cavs, playing on the second night of a back-to-back and missing their two best players, Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic.

The Cavaliers, fresh off Saturday night’s home drubbing, are limping towards the All-Star Break – have dropped 13 of 19 dating back to their Christmas Day loss at Oracle Arena. And it doesn’t get easier between now and next week – with a Timberwolves team that thumped Cleveland by 28 on January 8 on deck and matchups against Boston and Oklahoma City to close out the season’s unofficial first half.

LeBron James led the Cavaliers with 25 points and 10 boards, adding five assists and a steal. But the four-time MVP was as ineffective as the rest of the squad after intermission – tallying nine points without a single rebound or assist in the second half.

JR Smith, Tristan Thompson and Jeff Green each finished with 12 points in the loss.

Smith went 4-for-6 from beyond the arc – but attempted just two shots after the first quarter. Thompson added nine boards – five off the offensive glass. Jeff Green came off the bench to go 4-of-8 from the floor to go with four boards.

LeBron James

Balanced scoring not enough for the Cavs in Orlando.

Isaiah Thomas had his best quarter as a Cavalier in the first – going 3-for-5 from the floor for 11 points in the period – but things went south from there, missing his final eight shots and failing to score the rest of the way. Thomas did hand out eight assists – his high-water mark as a Cavalier.

Dwayne Wade was the only other Cavalier in double-figures – finishing with 11 points, four boards and an assist.

Jonathan Simmons was unstoppable in the third quarter on Tuesday night – netting 22 of his game-high 34 points, going 7-of-8 from the floor in the period and 12-of-17 overall.

On the night, all five Magic starters tallied double-figures. Frank Vogel’s squad shot 53 percent on the night, outrebounded the Cavs, 50-35, scored 70 points in the paint and held Cleveland to zero fastbreak points after intermission.

Turning Point -- You could say that Jonathan Simmons was a one-man turning point in the third period when he single-handedly equaled the Wine & Gold’s point total and erased their double-digit halftime lead.

But it was the Cavaliers’ frigid span in the fourth quarter that ultimately spelled their undoing.

With just over a minute gone in the final period, Dwyane Wade drilled a three-pointer that tied the game at 92-apiece. Cleveland would proceed to go the next six-and-a-half minutes without a bucket. And by the time LeBron split a pair of free throws at the 4:35 mark, the Magic had completed a 16-0 run that essentially put the game on ice.

By the Numbers4 … games in the last six that JR Smith has canned at least three three-pointers, including Tuesday night’s. Over that stretch, Smith is averaging 12.0 points per and shooting .439 from beyond the arc.

QuotableLeBron James, summing up Cleveland’s rough second half in Orlando …

”A snowball kind of turned into an avalanche in the third and a 41-point third quarter is hard to come back from.”

Up Next -- The Cavaliers have a wild run towards the Break, beginning with the second-half of a midweek back-to-back on Wednesday night at The Q – welcoming Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns and the T-Wolves to town. Cleveland then hits the road to close out the campaign’s unofficial first half – traveling to Atlanta for a Friday night meeting with the Hawks followed by a Sunday afternoon showdown against Kyrie Irving and the Celtics before wrapping up before the Break against Russell Westbrook and the Thunder on Tuesday.

Calls of the Game