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After a pair of lopsided defeats, the Wine & Gold closed their extended homestand with one of their best performances of the six-game stay – going toe-to-toe with the streaking Magic before succumbing in the closing moments.
The Cavaliers were within one of the Magic with just over two minutes to play, but a non-call for goaltending on a Collin Sexton layup attempt and an errant pass by Larry Nance Jr. in the final minute cost Cleveland – which dropped its fifth straight contest, 93-87, on Friday night at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
Facing the Magic for the third time this season – and second time on this homestand – the Cavaliers were sharp defensively for all 48 minutes, holding Orlando to 39 percent shooting while forcing 17 turnovers. Cleveland simply couldn’t get a clutch bucket when it needed one, scoring just 17 points over the final quarter.
Sexton led the Cavaliers with 19 points – his 44th consecutive game in double-figures – going 8-of-16 from the floor to go with three boards and a steal.
The Young Bull’s layup attempt with 53 seconds to play was blocked by Aaron Gordon, but could easily have been called goal-tending. Instead, it allowed Orlando to cling to a three-point advantage.
Cedi Osman followed up with 14 points, going 5-of-12 from the floor, including 3-of-7 from long-range, adding five boards, four assists and a blocked shot.
Kevin Porter Jr. chipped in with 12 points off the bench on 5-of-8 shooting, including 2-of-4 from beyond the arc, adding four boards and a steal. Tristan Thompson rounded out the Cavaliers in double-figures with 10 points, seven boards and a team-high five assists.
Nance – getting the start for Kevin Love, who missed the game due to illness – led both squads with 11 rebounds, four off the offensive glass, to go with four points and a pair of assists.
John Henson, in just his second game back from a hamstring injury, provided Cleveland with some much-needed rim protection – accounting for three of the Cavaliers’ seven blocks on the night.
For Orlando, Terrance Ross led the way offensively with a game-high 21 points off the bench. On the defensive end, Jonathan Isaac led both teams with four swats on the night.
Collin Sexton breaks out a great hesitation move and scores easily early in the first quarter against the Magic.
In the fourth quarter of Friday’s nail-biter, there were five ties but only one lead-change. Unfortunately for the Cavs, once the lead changed hands, the Magic never gave it back.
After Kevin Porter Jr. gave Cleveland a two-point lead on a dunk with seven minutes to play, Evan Fournier tied the game with a layup and, two possessions later, Jonathan Isaac gave Orlando a three-point edge on triple with 5:29 to play.
The Cavs got within a single point twice down the stretch – on Collin Sexton’s floater with 4:11 to play and on Larry Nance Jr.’s tip-in with 2:11 remaining – but could never quite get over the hump, dropping their third decision to the Magic this season.
13.7, .479, .395 … Cedi Osman’s scoring average along with his shooting percentage – from the floor and beyond the arc – over his last seven outings.
Over that stretch, Osman has notched double-figures in every game but one, snagging a team-high 12 boards in Cleveland’s win over Portland and leading both teams with four steals on Friday night against Orlando.
Coach John Beilein, on his squad's effort against Orlando …
"(Orlando) made just enough plays but I’m really proud of our team. It reminded me a lot of what we were playing like at the beginning of the year. We were gritty, we were tough. We just really played hard, something that the coaching staff has really been working with them on in the last couple of weeks. So, really proud of them. They deserved to win but sometimes the basketball gods go the other way and you can’t do much about it."
Enjoy the best broadcast calls of the night from Cavaliers Radio Network's Tim Alcorn and 87.7 La Mega's Rafa Hernandez-Brito.
The Cavaliers finally get back on the road, their first time away from Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse since November 22. They’ll play five of their next six on the road – starting with a Saturday night showdown with the Sixers in Philly.
On Monday, Cleveland travels to Boston to face the Celtics before returning for a home contest against the Rockets on Wednesday. From there, it’s off to San Antonio, Milwaukee and Toronto.