For the first time in their four meetings, the Orlando Magic was hanging tough with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the fourth quarter. Despite a 45-point effort from Victor Oladipo, the Magic fell to the Cavaliers 109-103 on Friday night at the Amway Center.
The Magic stormed from a 63-54 halftime deficit to outscore the Cavaliers 32-20 in the third to take an 86-83 lead into the final period. Orlando went cold for a five-minute stretch where they scored only six points, allowing Cleveland to take control.
With 1:09 remaining and Cleveland leading 107-100, Oladipo gave the Magic one last chance when he scored his 45th point on a three-pointer to bring his team within four. They would not score again.
Oladipo was a force at both ends of the court. He scored in multiple ways, played solid defense on LeBron James, made three steals and blocked two shots. Unfortunately, he had little help as Evan Fournier and Jason Smith were the only other two Magic players to score in double figures.
James, on the other hand, had plenty of help with five players scoring in double figures led by Kyrie Erving with 26. James had 18, but Tristan Thompson was a one-man wrecking crew off the bench.
Thompson scored 11 points, but had 15 rebounds and four steals. The recently traded Channing Frye nailed four crucial three pointers for Cleveland.
“They made up ground in both halves with LeBron out,” said Magic Coach Scott Skiles. “When he goes out, they put Kyrie in pick and rolls and let him create offense for himself and for others. When they did miss, Thompson was on the boards. They found Channing and he hurt us.”
Oladipo was 16 of 22 from the field, including six of seven from three-point range. He also made seven of eight free throws.
“He took good shots, he knocked them down,” said Skiles. “He made good decisions.”
Fournier had 18 points before fouling out and Smith chipped in with 10.
Frye and Kevin Love each contributed 14 points for the Cavaliers. Cleveland shot 50 percent from the field and nailed 13 of 28 three-point attempts for 47 percent.
The Magic played well and would likely have defeated most teams in the NBA on this night, but not the best team in the Eastern Conference. It does not get any easier as Orlando travels to Toronto on Sunday to play the team with the second best record in the East.
This will be the teams’ one and only meeting in Toronto this year. They split two games at the Amway Center earlier this season.