Kyrie Irving’s 31 lift Cavs over Magic, 109-100
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Cleveland coach Mike Brown has been saying for games there’s no magical way to make his team play better on the road.
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A big scoring night by Kyrie Irving is one way to end the woes.
Irving scored 31 points, Dion Waiters added 21, and the Cavaliers used a big second half to earn just their second road victory of the season, 109-100 over the Orlando Magic on Friday night.
Waiters had 20 points in the second half and scored 16 straight at one point as Cleveland outmuscled the Magic 36-30 in the paint. For Irving, it was his second straight 30-point game, following up a 37-point effort on Tuesday against New York.
“We’re starting to develop our identity as a great team, especially when things aren’t going our way offensively,” Irving said. “We’re not doing as well as we want on the road, but we’re taking steps in the right direction.”
Cleveland has won three straight and five out of six. It was its first road win since Nov. 16 and what the Cavs hope can help them start to turn around what had been a NBA-worst 1-10 road record.
The Cavaliers came into the game allowing opponents to shoot 47.2 percent against them away from home. The Magic started the night hot, but cooled to 43 percent for the night.
Brown said he particularly liked how his team took care of the ball with only two second-half turnovers.
“At the end of the first quarter we got careless and started turning the ball over and that hurt us,” he said. “But to have two turnovers in the second half was huge.”
Victor Oladipo tied a career high with 26 points. Arron Afflalo and Jameer Nelson each added 17.
Orlando tried different combinations on Irving, but nothing worked as it blew a 14-point, first-half lead. That happened despite the Magic scoring 25 fast-break points.
After the hot start, Orlando finished the first half just 9 of 29 from field. Meanwhile, Irving carried Cleveland’s offensive load with 16 first-half points as it recovered from a 9-for-24 shooting effort in first quarter to go 12 for 19 in the second.
“Only one person had the ball in his hands and that one person was shooting,” Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. “So whether it was Kyrie shooting or Dion Waiters shooting, I think that limited their risk of turning the basketball over.”
The Magic have lost seven of their last eight and clearly have a lot to figure out as they head back on the road next week for back-to-back games against Oklahoma City and Chicago.
Orlando’s recent frustrations seemed to bubble up in the final seconds, when forward Andrew Nicholson shoved Cavaliers big man Anderson Varejao in the back after he made an easy layup.
With Varejao — who had gone to the bench in the first half after banging his knee — still on the floor, Waiters briefly confronted Nicholson as referees stepped in.
Following a huddle by officials, Nicholson was given a Flagrant 2 foul and ejected.
“I didn’t try to hurt him,” Nicholson said. “I didn’t think I pushed him that hard, but it’s part of the game.”
The Magic seemed to be on their way to victory in the first half.
After being stricken by a spate of injuries early in the season, they had forward Tobias Harris on the floor for just the second time this season.
Harris, who has been hampered by a sprained left ankle, didn’t start and played sparingly, logging just 15 minutes.
Harris’ 3-pointer gave the Magic a five-point lead early in the fourth quarter before Waiters ignited a 14-0 run that put Cleveland up 95-85 with less than six minutes to play.
The Cavaliers pushed their lead to 101-90 with 2:29 to play. The Magic had one more run in them and got within 101-96 on a pair of free throws by Afflalo, but they got no closer.
“I had to turn it up. I had to be aggressive,” Waiters said. “I was frustrated in the first half. I let every little thing get the best of me, and I just told myself to come out in the second half and be aggressive. Shots were going in and out on me and it was frustrating. I just had to gather myself and get my thoughts together.”
Notes: As part of the team’s yearlong 25th anniversary celebration, the Magic honored former guard Dennis Scott on Friday night. Orlando’s fourth pick in the 1990 NBA draft, Scott played seven seasons for the Magic from 1990 to 1997 and is the franchise’s career leader in 3-point field goals made (981).