Game time: 6 p.m. TV: FOX Sports Florida (pregame at 5:30 p.m.)
Tristan Thompson won’t blame coach Byron Scott for the Cleveland Cavaliers’ struggles. He’s shown his support off the court, and now he might be doing the same on it.
The Cavs will try to avoid a season high-tying sixth straight home loss and hand the Orlando Magic their worst road losing streak in seven years Sunday night.
With Cleveland (23-52) coming off its season-worst 10th consecutive defeat Wednesday, 113-95 to Brooklyn, Thompson came out in support of Scott, whose future with the team is in jeopardy despite management picking up his option for 2013-14 in October.
“All the rumors about coach Scott and hot seat and all that crap, that’s bogus,” Thompson said following Thursday’s practice. “It’s up to us to come out and compete and play hard because we’re the ones out there. When he was out there playing, he won championships. So it’s up to us to come out there and play.”
Thompson did just that Friday, setting career highs with 29 points and 17 rebounds in a 97-91 victory at Boston.
“I just know he was really geared up to play,” Scott said. “Maybe it was some of the things he said. ‘We have to come out and play like men’ – and I thought our guys did that.”
The Cavs want to take that momentum back to Quicken Loans Arena, where they’re winless since March 12 versus Washington. That had been their most recent victory in any arena until Friday.
“During this losing streak, we had a lot of games we should have won but at the end of the day we ended up taking the L,” said Thompson, who had averaged 7.5 points in the previous five games. “Tonight was our game to win. We knew we had to take it and bring it back to Cleveland.”
That’s where the Magic (19-58) will close a five-game trip and try to end their second 10-game road losing streak of 2013. They haven’t had a longer one since dropping a franchise-record 16 straight road games during the 2005-06 season.
Six of the losses during the current road skid have been by single digits, including Friday’s 87-86 defeat to Chicago. Orlando led by eight in the final minute of the third quarter before suffering its 45th loss in 52 games.
“Just playing for 48 minutes. Playing the entire game,” rookie swingman DeQuan Jones said. “That just comes with experience and being in those situations. It’s something to build off of. Something to get better.”
Cavs point guard Kyrie Irving, shooting 9 for 36 over the last two games, could see plenty of Beno Udrih with Jameer Nelson questionable due to an ankle injury.
Udrih has is averaging 19.5 points and 8.3 assists while starting each game on the trip in place of Nelson. He scored a season-high 27 on Friday.
“He directs us on offense, but with him being a veteran, it’s easy for him to pick out spots where he can score and be efficient,” said Jones, who averages 3.7 points but has 22 over the last two games.
These teams will meet for the first time since Cleveland’s 118-94 victory in Orlando on Feb. 23. The Cavs had ended a 10-game skid in this series – and handed the Magic a season-worst 12th straight defeat – in the previous matchup in Cleveland, winning 119-108 on Feb. 8.