Nov 26, 2023; Orlando, Florida, USA; Orlando Magic guard Cole Anthony (50) moves the ball past Charlotte Hornets forward Brandon Miller (24) in the second quarter at Amway Center. [Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports]

Orlando Magic Beat Cleveland Cavaliers For Ninth Straight Home Win

If there was one word to describe the Orlando Magic, it would be toughness.

After falling 121-111 to Cleveland on Wednesday, Orlando got its revenge. On Monday, the Magic beat the Cavaliers 104-94 to pick up their 11th win of the season. This victory marks the team’s ninth straight at the Amway Center. Although Darius Garland dropped 36 points, Paolo Banchero would lead the charge for Orlando with 20, followed by Franz Wagner with 19.

The Return of Fences

Despite Banchero’s career-high 42-point night on December 6, the Magic were not able to hold off Cleveland’s star backcourt in Donovan Mitchell and Garland who combined for 61 points. However, a key component missing from that game was Orlando’s defensive presence, as they were down 17 points in the first quarter.

But things went differently on Wednesday as two pivotal pieces on defense, Jalen Suggs and Jonathan Issac, would return to the lineup. The pair combined for two steals and a blocked shot in Monday’s game. Although Garland and Mitchell would get 58 points together, the presence of the returning duo on the defensive end of the floor allowed the Magic to hold the Cavs to 94 total points, 27 points lower than what Cleveland scored in last week’s match up.

After the game, Suggs was asked about how he continues to play so physically and toughly, despite suffering big hits and minor injuries.

“I think it’s just kind of the way I’ve played basketball all my life,” Suggs, a Gonzaga alum said. “It’s the way I was taught, it’s the way I was raised. Playing outside, you know, playing against older dudes… you have to be tough. If you weren’t tough, you weren’t stepping on the court.”

Key Factors

The biggest contributor to Orlando’s win was that they outscored the Cavaliers 38-17 off the bench. Leading the way for the Magic was veteran leader Joe Ingles with his 12 points. Postgame, Magic coach Jamahl Mosley had nothing but praise for what Ingles provides for the bench.

“He does so many things for that second unit,” Mosley said. “What he does is he brings that calm to that group so that they can run our sets, defend the right way. There is a high level of communication within that group that he brings to the table.”

Two other huge factors to the Magic’s success were their ability to score down low and capitalize on turnovers. Orlando outscored the Cavs 56-36 in the paint and were able to force Cleveland into 13 turnovers. Off of those turnovers, the Magic scored 26 points, compared to the Cavaliers 11 points scored on Orlando’s 14 turnovers.

Lastly, the 407 had some big help on the inside, thanks to Goga Bitadze. In just three quarters, the Georgian center dominated the paint on both sides of the ball by getting seven boards and posting four blocks. Additionally, Bitadze put up 15 points, which ties his season high.

Messy First Quarter

Things were back and forth to start, but everything would soon get out of hand. The Magic tried to push the pace since they were outscored by 17 last time out in quarter one. But in doing so, Orlando put up four sloppy turnovers.

Trying to start where he left off against the Cavs, Banchero forced several shots and gave himself a ticket to the bench after shooting 2 for 10 in the first quarter.  Additionally, the Magic could not hit from downtown, going 1 for 5 from three point land. And if that was not enough, the dynamic pair of Garland and Mitchell would combine for 14 of the Cavs 29 points in the first. It was Cleveland 29-22 after one quarter.

Garland Gets Buckets

The second quarter might have been titled the “Darius Garland Show” because it was nothing short of that. The former Vanderbilt guard scored 12 of his 36 points in the second quarter. He was able to get to the free throw line at important moments in the game to stop Orlando’s momentum (4-4 from the stripe).

“I thought he was awesome,” Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff said.  “He was all over the floor. Whether it was scoring, whether it was playmaking… I thought he did a great job of recognizing the defense and attacking the basket when needed. So, I thought again he was who Darius is. He was trying to give his all.”

To make matters worse, Banchero would continue to struggle in this quarter going 1 of 4 from the field. But this is where the second unit of Ingles and others came to the rescue as they would outscore the Cavs’ bench 16 to 5. With all said and done, the Magic brought it to within three to close out the half 54-51.

Third Quarter Toughness

If there was any point this season where the Magic were tested, it was in the third quarter on Monday.

With Garland continuing to cook offensively (10 points in the third quarter) and Ingles leaving the game with a left ankle injury, you think things could not get worse? Well…

Although he scored eight of his 20 in the third, Banchero would suffer a nasty-looking right ankle sprain after stepping on someone’s foot. He would then be helped by medical staff back to the locker room, barely able to put any weight on his injured leg.

But Orlando showed toughness and aggressiveness on defense by holding the Cavs to a field goal percentage of 11.8% (2 for-17). While putting up stops, the Magic would also get out in transition and go on a 17-4 run to close out the quarter.

“They had some momentum plays that shifted in their favor,” coach Bickerstaff said. “They got the crowd involved. They attacked us in the paint. Made it a little more difficult for us defensively as well. We struggled to score there.”

Full Steam Fourth Quarter

Even though the Cavaliers outscored Orlando 25-23 in the final period, the run that the Magic put together in the third would be too much.

Speaking of a lot to handle, both Banchero and Ingles would return to the game to help the Magic in their late push. Here is what the former Duke forward had to say about his injury.

“It just shocked me at first,” Banchero said. “Obviously, you hate stepping on a guy’s foot and turning your ankle… but I was able to put weight on it. And then when I got back, it felt good enough. Just retaped it, went on the court real quick and felt like I could come back…I know I might be a little dramatic, but I really was shocked at first. But I feel fine. I’ll be good for Friday for sure.”

Up Next

The Magic will head north to Boston on Friday to take on the Celtics. Last time out, Orlando beat Boston at home for In-Season Tournament action. Tip-Off is set for 7:30 p.m.

About Miguel Molina

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