This past weekend was a back-to-back format for the Cleveland Cavaliers. They took on awful-by-record Orlando Magic on Friday, and welcomed the red-hot Denver Nuggets on Saturday.
The Magic have had Cleveland's number lately, having beaten the Cavaliers in 10 straight games. Unfortunately for them, they also have the league's longest losing streak at 12 games. Cleveland was not looking to give out any favors to the struggling Orlando team, as they looked to push their record to 6-2 since making a trade with the Memphis Grizzlies.
Though the Magic came to play, and made a game of it until the third quarter, it was the Cavaliers who eventually ran away with the game, finishing up with a 119-108 win in front of the home fans.
The game was tied after both the first and second quarter. Then, with Orlando leading 80-77 with just under two and half minutes to play, the bench helped to fuel a 13-0 run that gave Cleveland the lead for good.
That same Cavalier bench, which has been playing really well lately, scored 51 points on the night to help take control of the game. Recent additions Marreese Speights and Wayne Ellington were the biggest contributors, with 18 and 14 points respectively. Both C.J. Miles and Shaun Livingston added eight points and Luke Walton continued to lead this group.
For the starters, it was business as usual. Kyrie Irving had 24 points, eight assists, and six rebounds. He scored 15 of his points in the second half when Cleveland was making their push for the lead. Dion Waiters had 15 points and Tristan Thompson with 16 and five rebounds.
Three guys did most of the scoring for the Magic, all scoring in the 20's. Anderew Nicholson had 21 points and eight rebounds, Aaron Afflalo had 23 points, and Nikola Vucevic scored a career-high 25 points and had 13 rebounds.
The next night was a different story for Cleveland, as they ran into a team riding en eight-game winning streak. On this night, it was balanced play by the Denver Nuggets that caused problems for the Cavaliers.
The Nuggets had eight players score in double figures, including all five starters. They were led by Danilo Gallinari, who scored 19. Kenneth Faried had 17 and seven rebounds and Andre Iguodala scored 14 and had seven assists.
While Cleveland led by two after the first intermission, it was Denver who controlled the game from then on. Six straight points to end the half hurt the Cavaliers, but it was overall inconsistent play that was the issue.
Irving was the team's leader in allof the major statistical categories, finishing with 26 points, seven assists, and six rebounds. It was disappointing to not see the same type of play from the rest of the team, after having solid games the night before. While Alonzo Gee did score 20 points, Thompson, Waiters, and Speights were essentially no-shows. Ellington continued his strong play off the bench with another double-figure scoring output. He ended with 13 on the night and five rebounds.
The Cavaliers play again tonight, as they welcome the Minnesota Timberwolves to Quicken Loans Arena.
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