It wasn’t easy, but the Cavaliers escaped with a 101-93 victory over the Orlando Magic tonight for their sixth straight win. The Cavs were without Anderson Varejao and Dion Waiters, so other players needed to step up. Kyrie Irving lead the way with 22 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists. He scored 10 points in the first 5 minutes of the game, helping the Cavs jump out to a 26-to-11 lead after the first quarter. They lead by as many as 21 at one point, but the Magic fought back to get the deficit down to 4.
Defense was the key in the first half. The Cavs held Orlando to 30% shooting and 36 first half points. The third quarter was a different story. The Magic outscored the Cavs 32-to-17 in the 3rd, giving us a 4 point lead heading into the final quarter. Clutch free throws and baskets by Tyler Zeller and Irving sealed the win, continuing the longest winning streak since 2010.
Player of the Game
While Irving had the prettier stat-line, Zeller put up a solid 16 points and 6 rebounds against the strong Orlando frontcourt, a day after posting 18 points and a career high 15 boards against Philadelphia. The bigger stat: 8-for-9 free throws. The career high in made free throws were delivered in clutch moments; stopping key Orlando runs in the 4th quarter. The Cavaliers needed Zeller to step up with Anderson Varejao’s lingering back injury and the 7 foot big man for Orlando, Nikola Vucevic, on the other side.
The Cavaliers currently sit 3 games behind the 8-seed Charlotte Bobcats, and have a very tough 4-game stretch ahead. Their next contest is Friday at Toronto. Follow that with home games against Washington and Toronto again. The last of the 4 game stretch is a road match-up in Oklahoma City. Toronto is currently the 3-seed, and Washington sits in the 5-seed.