EditorsNote: Update 2: revises seventh graf
Jonathon Simmons scored a career-high 34 points on 12-of-17 shooting, and the Orlando Magic overcame a 21-point, second-quarter deficit to record a 116-98 victory over the sinking Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday at Amway Center in Orlando, Fla.
Evan Fournier added 19 points as Orlando won for the third time in four games following a 3-20 stretch. Bismack Biyombo had 11 points and eight rebounds while Mario Hezonja and Elfrid Payton tallied 10 points apiece as the Magic overcame the sixth-largest deficit in franchise history in terms of a winning outcome.
LeBron James had 25 points and 10 rebounds but couldn’t prevent Cleveland from losing for the 13th time in the past 19 games. The Cavaliers were outscored 65-31 in the second half while shooting just 30.8 percent from the field to drop to 42.9 percent for the game.
”Just couldn’t stop it. The snowball turned into an avalanche in the third,“ James said in a postgame interview. ”We’ve just got to keep pushing. Stay positive. I am staying positive. Just trying to figure out ways we can get better.
“It’s no time to throw shade on our season. We’ve got to be positive. Push forward. We have quite a few games left.”
Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue (illness) was helped to the locker room with 8:02 left in the second quarter and didn’t return.
J.R. Smith scored 12 first-quarter points and Isaiah Thomas had 11 for the Cavaliers, but neither scored again. Tristan Thompson and Jeff Green also had 12 points apiece while Dwyane Wade had 11.
The Cavaliers scored nine fourth-quarter points on 3-of-18 shooting and had no answer defensively for Simmons.
“I didn’t even know,” Simmons said in a postgame television interview regarding establishing a career high. “My teammates found me and I was able to make plays.”
Wade made a 3-pointer to tie the score at 92 with 10:59 left before the Magic rolled off the next 16 points. Shelvin Mack’s floater ended the surge and made it 108-92 with 4:51 to play.
Cleveland led 75-59 after a 3-pointer by James with 9:46 left in the third quarter before Orlando soared back into the game.
The Magic erupted for a 19-2 burst, and Simmons finished the stretch with two free throws to give Orlando a 78-77 advantage with 5:33 to play.
Simmons hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give the Magic a 92-89 lead entering the final quarter.
The Cavaliers looked sharp offensively by making 15 of 22 from the field in the first quarter as they took a 43-31 lead.
Smith was 4 of 4 from 3-point range, and James had 10 on 4-of-4 shooting.
Cleveland’s lead reached 59-38 on James’ layup with 5:48 left in the half before the attack started to slow. Orlando pulled within 12 late in the half before the Cavaliers took a 67-51 lead into the break.
--Field Level Media