Posted on February 7, 2018, by Travis Pulver
The Orlando Magic are not a very good team this year. If the Cleveland Cavaliers were going to rebound against anyone a team like the Magic would be perfect. But the Cavaliers would have to play a decent, complete game still— and they just couldn’t do it. It looked like the Cavaliers had it together in the first quarter after exploding for 43 points to take a 12-point lead, 43-31.
While things calmed down in the second, they still managed to extend their lead to 67-51 at the half.
All they had to do was keep doing what they had been after the break, and they could escape with a win. But that didn’t happen.
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The offense disappeared right along with the defense in the third quarter. Orlando exploded for 41 points—including a 19-2 run — while holding Cleveland to just 22. After being down the entire game, it was the Magic with a three-point lead, 92-89, heading into the final quarter.
Cleveland could certainly mount a comeback and win the game still if they could just play better in the fourth quarter. Instead, the Magic started it with a 16-3 that saw them take a 108-92 lead with 4:51 to play.
The game mercifully ended a few minutes later with the Cavaliers scoring just nine points in the quarter making the final score, Orlando 116 Cleveland 98.
Jonathon Simmons led the way for the Magic with 34 points, 22 of which came in the third quarter. He caught fire in the third hitting seven of eight shots.
“To be honest, adrenaline was just going, and I didn’t even realize what was going on,” Simmons said after the game (ESPN). “I was just trying to play hard and trying not to have another setback.”
Every other Magic starter scored in double figures.
Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue left the Cleveland bench early in the second quarter for the locker room due to an illness and did not return. Associate head coach Larry Drew took over.
“[Lue] said he wasn’t feeling well and was going to go back [to the locker room] for a second and he would be back,” Drew said after the game (ESPN). “We went in at halftime and checked on him, and he seemed to be doing a little better, but I guess he just wasn’t feeling well enough to come back for the second half.”
LeBron James led the way for Cleveland with 25 points and ten rebounds. Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith had 12, and Isaiah Thomas chipped in 11.
The Cavs will try to right the ship against the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night at home. Orlando will try to win their third in a row when they face the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday.
At this point, ugly losses have almost become the norm for the Cavaliers who have now lost 14 of their last 21. So, the media was more interested in talking to LeBron about the trade rumors that floated around earlier in the day.
Doing so would make sense. Any team would be glad to have him even if it would only be for the remainder of this season. Not only would every remaining game sell out, but they’d make a goldmine on merchandise. Oh—and their playoff hopes would skyrocket.
But he has a no-trade clause in his contract. James briefly talked about the rumors (ESPN):
“I’m here for this season right now to try and figure out a way we can still compete. I owe it to my teammates to finish this season out no matter how it ends up. I would never waive my no-trade clause.”
He added: “This is no time to be ashamed about our season,” he added. “We’ve got quite a few games left. If we’re still serious about the season, then we’ve got to play some good ball at some point.”