The Orlando Magic were able to stay with the defending NBA champions for a half, but basketball games are four quarters. The Cleveland Cavaliers rode an unbelievable third quarter to turn a two-point halftime deficit into a 122-102 victory over the Magic on Tuesday night at Quicken Loans Arena.

In the first half, Orlando was matching Cleveland basket for basket, taking a 55-53 lead into the locker room. But on so many occasions this season, the Magic have been blown away in the third quarter, which is exactly what happened on Tuesday.

Cleveland came out in the second half and moved the ball around to repeatedly find open shooters. They made nine three-point shots in the period, including four from J.R. Smith. They finished 18 for 36 from three-point range.

During those decisive 12 minutes, the Cavaliers outscored the Magic 43-20 and took a 96-75 lead into the fourth quarter. The game was essentially over.

“Our guys competed,” said Magic Coach Frank Vogel before reliving what went down in the third quarter. “(Cleveland) was at their best in that quarter. That’s why they’re the NBA champs.”

The Cavaliers’ big three of LeBron James, Kyrie Erving and Kevin Love combined for 70 points. Smith added 19 and Kyle Korver returned from injury to chip in with 11.

The Magic were led by 21 points from Evan Fournier. Mario Hezonja had 13 points off the bench.

Orlando dropped their fifth straight game to fall to 27-51 on the season. Only four games remain on the season with the Brooklyn Nets coming to town on Thursday night.

 

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