The Cavaliers chose rest over results again Sunday, and the Magic rallied from an early hole to take a 98-92 victory.
The Cavaliers lost for the third straight game, all with LeBron James watching from the bench. Mo Williams and Antawn Jamison were back in the starting lineup after sitting out Friday night, and Anthony Parker got his first rest of the season.
Dwight Howard’s strong inside play was key for the Magic, who have clinched the Eastern Conference’s second seed. Howard scored 22 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked 6 shots. Howard’s layup on a lob from Jameer Nelson bascially put the game out of reach, at 98-88, with 2:20 to go.
Delonte West led the Cavaliers with 21 points. Mo Williams and Antawn Jamsion each scored 19. Jamison got 15 of his in the first half.
Back-to-back baskets by West and Zydrunas Ilgauskas put the Cavaliers up 40-24 with 7:19 left in the first half, but the Magic found their shooting stroke and cut the lead to 50-46 by halftime.
Orlando led, 77-73, after three quarters. The Cavaliers took the lead early in the fourth quarter but a fourth-quarter lineup that included Danny Green and Sebastian Telfair as Williams and Jamison sat couldn’t sustain it. Cavaliers Head Coach Mike Brown said he originally planned to re-insert Williams and Jamison before the Cavaliers made their run, then reconsidered and decided to keep them on the bench.
The Cavaliers shot 53 percent in the first quarter but just 41 percent (34-of-83) for the game.
Orlando’s Mickael Pietrus scored all 12 of his points in the fourth quarter including 2 of the 9 3-pointers the Magic hit on the day. Six Magic players scored in double figures.
“They drove, they kicked the ball out and they knocked down some open threes,” Brown said. “We have to do a better job closing out on shooters.”
NOTES: The Cavaliers finish 35- at home, the third-best record in franchise history. For the first time, all 41 games were sold out…With James and Parker out, Jawad Williams and Jamario Moon started. Moon scored 12 points, Williams 4…Shaquille O’Neal sat on the Cavaliers’ bench during the game for the first time since injuring his thumb in late February…Daniel Gibson played 9 minutes before tweaking the foot that had kept him out for the last 10 days or so…The Magic are headed straight to Indiana for a game with the Pacers Monday. They close the regular season Wednesday at home against Philadelphia. The Cavaliers close the regular season Wednesday at Atlanta.