Clarkson, Love lead Cavaliers to 107-93 win over Magic
CLEVELAND — Kevin Love makes the Cleveland Cavaliers a different basketball team.
The Orlando Magic learned that lesson Sunday night (Monday morning, Philippine time) in what could be a costly loss for their playoff hopes.
A night after being held out of a 36-point loss to Detroit, Love had 16 points and 14 rebounds and the Cavaliers pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 107-93 win.
Orlando, which was coming off wins over Golden State and Indiana, rallied to tie the game at 81 with seven minutes to play before Cleveland took over. The Cavaliers hit seven 3-pointers in the period, including two each by Jordan Clarkson and Cedi Osman.
Love is still progressing from foot surgery in November and has yet to play on back-to-back days. The five-time All-Star was ready after watching Saturday’s 129-93 debacle.
“It was just sticking to the plan,” Love said. “I was very excited when I got asked the question (after the All-Star break) that I wanted to play in every game, that I wasn’t going to miss any more games, but we’re taking it day by day. It was a huge win for us against a team fighting for position.”
Nikola Vucevic scored 28 points for Orlando. He was 13 of 16 from the field and had 13 rebounds.
D.J. Augustin added 19 points for the Magic, who hold a very slim lead over Charlotte and Miami for first place in the Southeast Division and the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Orlando coach Steve Clifford held a long meeting with his players after the game.
“This is a bad loss, man,” guard Evan Fournier said. “We feel like we were too casual. We’ve got to grow. Cliff said a lot of stuff after the game. He said a lot of things.”
“Every game counts the same,” Clifford said. “To not look at it that way, that every game is important, it’s a losing mentality and a total lack of understanding what the NBA is.”
Playing his seventh game since returning, Love made two free throws and hit a 3 from the top of the arc during Cleveland’s game-clinching run.
Clarkson scored 19 points. Rookie guard Collin Sexton had 17 points and Osman scored 14 for the Cavaliers, who have won five of eight. Larry Nance Jr. and Matthew Dellavedova each added 11 points.
Cleveland scored 17 straight points during a run that began late in the third quarter with Orlando leading 72-63. The Magic tied the game on Augustin’s 3-pointer midway through the fourth.
Vucevic scored 10 points in the third when the Magic pulled ahead after trailing by four points at halftime.
Orlando, trying to make the playoffs for the first time since 2012, has won eight of 11. The Magic went 6 of 26 on 3s. /bmjo
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