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Wrap-Up -- In the postgame locker room, Kevin Love was asked what the reason was for Cleveland’s recent improvement from three-point range – having now hit at least 10 triples in each of their last nine games.
”Me,” said Love.
The modest five-time All-Star was joking, of course. But it’s no joke that the Wine & Gold are a different team with their veteran leader in the lineup. And on Sunday night – less than 24 hours after getting smushed by 36 points – the Cavaliers bounced back to earn a dramatic 107-93 comeback win over the red-hot Magic at The Q.
Cleveland trailed by nine with just over a minute to play in the third quarter when they turned things around. And after notching just 15 points in the third period, proceeded to outscore Orlando, 40-21, the rest of the way.
The Cavs made just four trips to the stripe through the first three quarters, but wore out a path in the fourth – going 17-of-19 from the line, finishing 21-of-23 overall compared to 9-of-11 for the Magic.
Playing the role of spoilers against a Magic team coming off two big wins and poised for a postseason appearance for the first time since 2011-12, the Cavaliers aggressive second unit outscored Orlando’s reserves, 47-13, paced by Jordan Clarkson – who scored 11 of his team-high 18 points in the final period.
On the night, the league’s third-highest-scoring reserve went 5-of-9 from the floor, including 3-of-6 from beyond the arc and 5-of-5 from the stripe in 26 minutes of work off the bench.
Kevin Love doubled-up for the fourth time in five games since returning full time to the lineup – notching 16 points on 3-of-11 shooting, going 7-of-8 from the stripe and grabbing a game-high 14 rebounds.
Collin Sexton followed up with 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting, adding two boards and a pair of steals – his 55th game this season in double-figure scoring.
Six Cavs score in double figures in Sunday's victory.
Cedi Osman doubled-up in the first meeting against Orlando earlier this season and was solid again on Sunday – chipping in with 14 points on 6-of-13 shooting, adding six boards and three assists.
Larry Nance Jr., getting his second straight start in the middle for an injured Ante Zizic – still in the NBA’s concussion protocol – added 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting to go with seven boards and a team-high four assists.
Matthew Dellavedova rounded out the Cavaliers in double-figures, finishing with 11 points in 19 minutes off the bench – going 3-for-6 from long-distance to go with three assists and a pair of steals.
Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic led both teams with 28 points, going 13-of-16 from the floor – leading the Magic with 13 boards, six assists, two steals and a pair of blocked shots.
Turning Point -- Khem Birch connected on the first of two free throws with 1:08 to play in the third to give Orlando a nine-point edge, 72-63, and the Magic looked poised to pull away. Instead, that simply ignited the Wine & Gold’s rally.
David Nwaba scored four points in the final 26 seconds of the quarter, which didn’t seem significant at the time, but it served as the opening salvo for the Cavaliers’ 17-0 run.
By the time Jordan Clarkson drilled a three-pointer with 9:12 to play in the game, the Cavaliers had turned a nine-point deficit into an eight-point advantage – holding Orlando off the rest of the way for their fourth win the last six games.
By the Numbers – 21.6, 11.4, .486, .941 … Kevin Love’s scoring and rebounding averages – plus shooting percentages from beyond the arc and the free throw line – in his five games since the All-Star Break.
Quotable – Coach Larry Drew, on his squad bouncing back after a rough loss to Detroit the previous night …
”It’s been a tough season for us, we’ve acknowledged that. We’re still competing and we’re still going to play hard. There are going to be good nights and bad nights. Tonight, I thought after last night’s lopsided loss our guys came out and really wanted to prove something tonight, that we could be better.”
Up Next -- After splitting their weekend back-to-back with Detroit and the Magic, the Wine & Gold hit the road for a pair – traveling to Brooklyn for a Wednesday night matchup with the Nets and down to South Beach two nights later for their final meeting with the Heat this season. The Cavs come home for one game – taking on Toronto next Monday – before getting right back on the road, facing the Sixers the following night, the Magic in Orlando two nights later and wrap up the trip against Luka Doncic and the Mavericks next Saturday night in Dallas.