Magic Blow 9-Point Lead in Final Minute, Lose in Cleveland
In a game that may have permanently set back the watch-ability of marginal January basketball, the Orlando Magic miraculously found a way to choke away a game that was all but locked up as a win against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Orlando led by NINE points with a minute remaining in the game, looking like they were going to escape with the ugly win. Then this happened:
- Glen Davis fouls Dion Waiters, who makes both free throws. ORL 79 – CLE 72
- Orlando runs around frantically on offense before Arron Afflalo misses a 26-foot three-point attempt. Cleveland ball, 28 seconds left.
- Jameer Nelson fouled Jarrett Jack on a three-point attempt with 13 seconds remaining. Jack knocked down all three free throws. ORL 79 – CLE 75
- Orlando fails to inbound the ball. 5-second violation, Cleveland ball.
- Dion Waiters immediately attacks the paint and make a driving layup. ORL 79 – CLE 77. 10 seconds left.
- E’Twaun Moore is immediately fouled, misses BOTH free throws. Cleveland ball.
- Dion Waiters iso against Arron Afflalo. Drives hard to the left, blowing by Afflalo and is met with no resistance at the rim. ORL 79 – CLE 79. OVERTIME.
- Tank. So. Hard.
Cleveland rode the momentum swing straight into overtime, finishing the deflated Orlando squad off for the 87-81 victory. It was a stranger than fiction finish for the Magic as they closed out the game like an intimidated college team in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Kyrie Irving was sidelined with a left knee bruise, making scoring a struggle for Cleveland all night. Credit could be given to a respectable defensive performance for the Magic but with Irving out and Anderson Varejao taking 17 shots, defense tends to become a tad easier. Varejao led the Cavs with 18 points and pulled down 25 rebounds without Nik Vucevic (sprained left ankle) to compete with down low. Dion Waiters scored 17, including six points in the final minute to force OT.
After a 9-0 run by the Magic at the end of the 3rd quarter, Orlando seemed in control to cruise through the rest of the game. Cleveland showed little interest in being there and looked doubtful to even break the 70 point barrier. The absence of Nik Vucevic was almost covered up, until it was fully exposed on Waiters final two driving layups – unimpeded to the rim.
The Magic were led in scoring by Big Baby’s 16 points, but it came on a deficient 6-19 shooting performance. Jameer Nelson had 14 points and 9 assists.
Orlando now sits at 10-22 on the season. The team will need to erase this one from their consciousness quickly – as will any human being that was forced to watch the collapse unfold – as the Miami Heat come to the Amway Center on Saturday evening. Tip is set for 7pm.