Cleveland Cavaliers’ playoff hopes disappear with 120-115 losses to Orlando Magic, will tackle play-in tournament

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Orlando Magic made the Cleveland Cavaliers’ playoff hopes disappear on Tuesday night.

Given what was at stake, with so few games left in the regular season clinging to the hope of a miracle in the late season to reach the top 6, the Cavs suffered their most disappointing loss of the season to the flickering Magic, 120-115. Orlando went into the night after losing six games in a row. Cleveland’s play-in tournament role was sealed after Toronto beat Atlanta.

“There is no oversight in this league,” Cavs coach JB Bickerstaff said after the loss. “It’s every single night, the stakes are at stake, and the absolute minimum we ask our guys is to outcompete the man in front of them. Tonight, they overcame us time and time again. They outcompeted us. Give them credit. But it is disappointing that it was the effort we put in tonight. ”

The Cavs started hot and surpassed the Magic, 14-3, in the opening minutes. But they could not stand it.

In a game that included 13 lead shifts and six draws, Orlando led by five that went into the fourth quarter. It pushed that advantage to a game-high 10 with less than seven minutes left. After the Cavs fought back, the lead increased to 10 once again after four minutes. But Cleveland made one last push, led by their All-Star point guard Darius Garland.

The team leader, who has talked about raising his playing level at this time of year, lit an 11-4 run. Lauri Markkanen had an open 3-pointer over the break that would have leveled the match with about 48 seconds left. Only Markkanen missed, and Ignas Brazdeikis, who played instead of the injured Franz Wagner, who left the game after just nine minutes, gave Orlando a five-point lead after a putback.

Garland scored or assisted on Cleveland’s first six shots and nine of the first 10 in the fourth quarter. He accounted for 22 of the 29 points in the fourth, trying to save the Cavs from a crushing loss.

Instead, the Magic sealed the victory at the free-throw line, hitting three of four in the final 10 seconds.

“This magical team, they never stop,” Bickerstaff said. “You watch the movie about them, no matter the circumstances, they compete for their tail, and they play the game together, no matter what the outcome is. So we knew they wanted their shots. How we handled it, what we endured, how we did what we did to be successful, it just was not there.It’s something we definitely need to learn.We keep hoping to change a contact.But every time we try to turn a contact, it bites us in the butt. “

Garland finished with a game-high 27 points, including 13 in the fourth. He added 10 assists and six rebounds. Markkanen added 25 and went 6-of-12 from 3-point range. Kevin Love came in with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Center Moses Brown also recorded a double-double, his third in the last four games. Brown had 10 points and 12 boards.

The Magic, who failed to hit the 90-point mark in the previous two games, shattered Cleveland’s weak defense throughout. They shot 50.5% from the field and 45.7% from beyond the arc, hitting 16 3s.

“It was not us. It was not Cavaliers basketball,” said Markkanen. “We can not wait until the fourth quarter to try to make a comeback or whatever. I felt like the last five minutes, the intensity we played with in defense, was kind of where it should be a full 48 minutes. Disappointing loss of course. Most importantly, because we did not play by our standards, which we have for defense and attack. It was, of course, a big fight for us.

“You can see in the locker room that everyone is feeling the same way, everyone knows we should have won the match and we have a lot more to play for than they have right now.”

Orlando center Mo Bamba, who started 5-of-5 from deep, had a team-high 21 points. Brazdeikis finished with 20. A total of eight players reached double digits, including five members of Orlando’s bench. The Magic reserves surpassed Cleveland’s, 66-37.

The Cavs, who have lost seven of their last nine, have been locked in the at least play-in tournament for weeks – a match between No. 7-10 starting on April 12. But Tuesday’s confusing loss combined with a late season drop, assured it’s their only way to the playoffs.

“There are 82 games in a season and that’s going to happen,” Bickerstaff said when asked about his level of concern. “We just chose the wrong time for it to happen.”

Moving up

With his first made basket Tuesday night – a 14-foot jumper – Love moved past Larry Nance Sr. for the only possession of ninth place on Cleveland’s scoring list of all time.

Next

The Cavs will have a few days off in Orlando before heading to Brooklyn for the season’s final road game against the Nets Friday night. Tips are set for 19:30

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