EditorsNote: rewords 4th graf; other minor edits
Isaiah Thomas scored 21 points and hit the go-ahead free throws with 11 seconds remaining as the Cleveland Cavaliers blew a 23-point lead and held off the Orlando Magic for a 104-103 win Thursday night at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.
Thomas shot 6 of 15 from the floor but made six of seven free throws. His biggest points occurred after Orlando briefly took its first lead in the final minute.
Thomas gave the Cavaliers a seemingly safe 98-91 lead by hitting a 3-pointer with 5:31 remaining, but Orlando stormed back and took a 103-102 lead with 31 seconds left after Shelvin Mack rebounded a missed 3-pointer by Aaron Gordon and converted a short jumper in the lane.
On the next possession, Kevin Love missed a contested dunk, but Thomas grabbed the rebound with 15 seconds left and was fouled by Mack four seconds later. After Thomas restored Cleveland’s lead, Elfrid Payton missed a layup. Following a replay review, the game ended with a jump ball at center court with two-tenths of a second remaining.
LeBron James scored 16 points for the Cavaliers, who carried a 67-47 lead into halftime and held a 23-point advantage early in the third. He is 25 points away from becoming the seventh player in NBA history to reach 30,000 career points.
Love added 12 points and 11 rebounds while Dwyane Wade contributed 11 points as the Cavaliers won for the fourth time in 13 games. Cleveland committed 19 turnovers, while Orlando gave the ball away 15 times.
Payton finished with 19 points and eight assists for Orlando, which has lost 28 of its last 33 games. Evan Fournier and Gordon added 17 apiece for the Magic, who outscored Cleveland 56-37 in the second half but also missed 17 of 22 3-point attempts.
With about a minute left in the third, Orlando’s Jonathon Simmons tracked down a loose ball near the 3-point line and coasted in for a dunk, cutting the lead to 80-78. After Wade made an errant pass into the seats, Simmons tied the game at 80 by hitting two free throws with 49.2 seconds left.
Cleveland took an 84-80 lead into the fourth following hoops by Derrick Rose and Jeff Green on its last two possessions of the third before nearly losing down the stretch.
--Field Level Media