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Wrap-Up -- The Magic owed the Cavaliers one from the tough loss they took less than two weeks ago at The Q. And they played like it.
Orlando jumped on the Cavaliers early and never let up – running out to a double-digit lead late in the first quarter and barely looking back from there, taking the 120-91 decision, and the season series, on Thursday night at the Amway Center.
The Magic – hungry for their first postseason appearance since 2011-12 – was all business from the opening tip and didn’t let Cleveland come up for air the rest of the way, handing out 31 assists on 45 made baskets, drilling 14 triples and committing just nine turnovers on the night.
Still missing Tristan Thompson (foot), Larry Nance Jr. (chest) and Matthew Dellavedova (concussion protocol), the Cavs saw both Nikola Vucevic and Khem Birch both double-up in the win – with Aaron Gordon leading Orlando with 21 points.
Collin Sexton led all scorers on Thursday night – topping the 20-point plateau for the fourth straight game – finishing with 23 points on 7-for-16 shooting from the floor and 7-of-8 from the stripe, adding four boards, three assists and a block.
Jordan Clarkson continues to struggle from the floor, but still managed to follow up with 15 points, going 6-of-18 from the floor, including 1-of-6 from beyond the arc, to go with four boards, a pair of assists and a steal.
As a team, the Cavaliers were 7-for-31 from long-distance, snapping their streak of canning at least a dozen three-pointers at 14 straight games.
Brandon Knight finished with 12 points on 5-for-10 shooting and Ante Zizic – getting his third straight start in the middle – added 11 points and eight boards.
Sexton tallies fourth-straight 20-point game against Magic.
Kevin Love had trouble getting going on Thursday – finishing with just 10 points on 3-for-9 shooting to go with eight rebounds – logging only 24 minutes of work while battling foul trouble.
The Magic’s second unit was just as problematic – combining to outscore Cleveland’s reserves, 40-37, with Birch and Terrence Ross each notching double-figure scoring off the bench.
Turning Point -- This one spiraled away relatively quickly for the Cavaliers.
Cleveland actually scored the first five points of the game but Orlando caught up quickly, taking the lead midway through the first quarter. Collin Sexton got the Wine & Gold back to within a deuce, but the Magic went on an 8-0 run to give them their first double-figure lead of the game. It wouldn’t be their last.
Orlando proceeded to open up a 16-point edge after one quarter, led by as many as 24 in the second and by as many as 32 in the fourth before Steve Clifford called off the dogs in the closing moments.
By the Numbers – 26.0, .549, .500, .929 … Collin Sexton’s scoring average – along with his shooting percentage from the floor (39-of-71), beyond the arc (13-of-26) and from the stripe (13-14) – over his last four games.
Quotable – Coach Larry Drew, on facing a hungry Magic team on Thursday night …
"I thought (Orlando) came out and set the tone early and we didn’t respond. That was disappointing. A message about this game is how they came out. And we knew they would come out with a sense of urgency, but we just didn’t respond."
Up Next -- Following Thursday night’s defeat in the Magic Kingdom, the Wine & Gold wrap up their three-game roadie on Saturday night in Dallas against the Mavs. The Cavaliers then return home for a nice three-game homestand – starting with the Pistons’ final visit to The Q on Monday night, followed by the East-leading Bucks two nights later and wrapping up with the Clippers on Friday night. Cleveland travels to Milwaukee for a Sunday afternoon meeting and return home for a matchup against the Celtics two nights later.