Cavalier's 25 turnovers costly in 116-104 loss to Magic
BY STONE LEXINGTON
CAVALIERS BEAT WRITER
(CLEVELAND, OH) - In their first game of the 2019-20 season, the Cleveland Cavaliers lost a close contest to the Magic in Orlando. It was the first time this season’s version of the Cavs had played together and unfortunately for the team, they haven’t had much success since.
On Wednesday night, the Cavs entered their second meeting with the Magic having just five wins in 17 tries. Cavs head coach John Beilein, however, has seen progress from his squad.
“I’m so encouraged,” Beilein said about his team’s development since opening night. “I think we have a plan that we’re working at right now, whether what we’re running at different times of the game. I think we have a better feel for who can do what.
“The injury thing has just gotten in the way and the rest time thing. We’re finding out more every day, but we’re way farther ahead than we were a month ago. At the same time, other teams improved too.”
When referring to improvement, the Magic have navigated a similar path as Cleveland since the opening game victory. Orlando entered Wednesday with only five wins since the triumph over Cleveland, largely due to the team experiencing its fair share of injuries.
Against Cleveland on Wednesday, the Magic were without Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon and Michael Carter-Williams, but shooting guard Evan Fournier filled in admirably for the trio with a season-high 28 points en route to a 116-104 Magic victory. A season-high 25 Cavaliers turnovers didn’t help either.
“We were kind of telling the guys after the game, there are turnovers you can live with and turnovers you can’t,” Cavs forward Larry Nance Jr. said. “Unselfish turnovers we can live with, and tonight I think we had a lot of those where I just appreciate that we were looking to make the right plays.”
Collin Sexton paced the Cavs with 20 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Tristan Thompson totaled 13 points and 15 rebounds, his 10th double-double of the season and 162nd in his career.
After 27-27 deadlock at the end of the first quarter, the game began to get away from the Cavs in the second. When Orlando forward Wes Iwundu drained a 13-foot jumpshot with 4:58 remaining until halftime, the Magic secured their largest lead of the first half, 50-39. Orlando took a 59-52 lead into the half, and matters only got worse for Cleveland in the final two quarters.
Still experiencing issues with his lower back, Cavs power forward Kevin Love left the game in the third quarter and did not return until midway through the fourth. His absence didn’t help the Cavaliers’ cause, as Orlando took a commanding 87-73 lead into the final frame.
The Cavs cut the Orlando lead to a 98-90 deficit on a Sexton floater with 6:04 to play, but back-to-back Markelle Fultz and Mo Bamba three-pointers put the Magic back up 14 points with a little more than five minutes to play. The Cavs never recovered.
Darius Garland finished with 16 points, the seventh time in his last eight games he has reached double figures in scoring. Meanwhile, Nance Jr. was another bright spot for the Cavs on Wednesday, recording his third straight double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
“Overall, he’s been absolutely terrific,” Beilein said. “I just love that he’s taking threes. He’s making them and at the beginning of the year I didn’t care if he made them, I just wanted him to take them because I’ve seen it in practice and I didn’t want him turning them down, especially when the alternative was a walk call in preseason if he didn’t shoot it. That’s calmed down a little bit.
“Overall defensively, he’s been really solid. He’s got the pulse of the team a little bit. He works hard, he shows up and goes to work with his hard hat every day. You have to love coaching that.”
The Cavs fell to 1-2 on their current six-game homestead. It won’t get any easier for the Cavs on Friday, as they’ll host the Eastern Conference leading Milwaukee Bucks.
POSTED 11/27/2019 22:39