Kevin Love misses game due to sickness, Cavs fall to Magic 93-87
CLEVELAND (AP) — Terrence Ross scored 21 points, Evan Fournier added 18 and Aaron Gordon had a big dunk in the final 20 seconds to lead the Orlando Magic to their fourth straight win, 93-87 Friday night over the Cleveland Cavaliers, who have dropped four in a row and 11 of 12.
Orlando, which opened the season 2-6, moved to .500 for the first time.
The Cavs needed a defensive stop on Orlando’s next trip, but instead they gave up a dunk on a baseline out of bounds play with just three seconds left on the 24-second shot clock to Gordon, who managed to get free in the lane and scored over Tristan Thompson.
On Cleveland’s next possession, Larry Nance Jr. threw away the ball trying to hit Sexton on the opposite wing, ending the Cavs’ last chance at a comeback.
Cleveland was without star forward Kevin Love, who has been battling a flu bug the past few days and stayed home to rest. The Cavs are hoping Love will be available Saturday in Philadelphia. Love recently missed three games with a bruised back.
Down by 11 in the second quarter and five at halftime, the Cavs opened the third quarter with a 13-4 run fueled by 3-pointers from Sexton and Osman.
Cleveland played solid defense throughout and held the Magic to 16 points while taking a 70-68 lead into the final 12 minutes.
Before the game, first-year Cavs coach John Beilein addressed a report that players have complained about his coaching style. The Athletic, quoting anonymous Cleveland players, said Beilein’s methods are not working and they’ve begun tuning him out.
The former Michigan coach believes he has his player’s attention and said they have been receptive.
“We’ve met with and it’s like, ‘Coach, keep doing what you’re doing because we really need this. We need accountability, we need to play harder, stronger, tougher. Don’t stop what you’re doing,’” he said. “We were the worst defensive team in the NBA last year. What do we do, practice less?”
“I have a lot of confidence the guys in the locker room are on board, and they’ve told me that.”
Magic coach Steve Clifford offered his unsolicited support of Beilein.
“I’ve known coach Beilein longer than anybody,” he said. “He’s a phenomenal coach and he’s won at every level. This league is a tough league. All I know is he’ll find a way to win. It’s not easy to do and there is very little growth at any level in any team sport without any conflict.
“When a guy says something behind the scenes and they won’t own it, as a coach, it gets very frustrating.”
Magic: Gordon sat out Orlando’s win over Cleveland on Nov. 27 with an ankle injury. … Center Nikola Vučević missed his eighth straight game with a sprained right ankle. … Orlando’s 17-game improvement was the NBA’s largest last season.
Cavaliers: Nance, who had 11 rebounds, was disappointed teammates commented about Beilein behind his back. “Ideally you want to keep that in house if there was those issues,” he said. “I guess that’s today’s NBA. … I’ve never had an issue with a coach in my career, him being no different. I wanted to play for him at Michigan. I’m enjoying it.” … Rookie G/F Dylan Windler scored eight points in his debut for the Canton Charge as he works his way back from a leg stress reaction. … As part of their 50th anniversary celebration, the Cavs honored players from 1970-83, including Butch Lee, Elmore Smith, Jim Brewer, Jim Chones, Campy Russell and Austin Carr. … Cleveland went 1-5 on a six-game homestand.
Magic: Visit Milwaukee on Monday. The teams combined for 84 3-point attempts in a 123-91 Bucks win on Nov. 1.
Cavaliers: Visit the 76ers on Saturday. Philly can sweep the three-game season series.
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