IN THE CROSSHAIRS

Dominant Third Quarter Allows Magic to Defeat Cavaliers

Ken Cross

December 13, 2023 at 12:16 am.

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Orlando Magic used a relentless defensive effort in holding the Cleveland Cavaliers to 35.3 percent from the field and 9-for-40 from three to post a 104-94 win in Amway Arena on Monday evening.

The Magic scored 26 points on 13 Cavaliers turnovers which allowed the 16th win this season leaving Orlando one game behind the Boston Celtics in the NBA Eastern Conference.

“Getting those extra possessions I thought was big,” said Magic head coach Jamal Mosley. “I think our guys did a good job of staying the course regardless of what was happening throughout the game, trying to keep our composure as best as possible.”

Paolo Banchero led five Magic players in double figures with 20 points while Franz Wagner scored 19.

Cleveland was a challenge as guard Darius Garland scored 36 points in making 11-of-23 field goals while spending much of the evening on the free throw line, netting 11-of-12.

“He was all over the floor whether it was scoring or whether it was playmaking,” said Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff. “I thought he did a great job of recognizing the defense and attacking the basket when needed.”

Orlando trailed the Cavaliers, 54-51, at halftime, but the Magic used a stifling defense in the third quarter in holding Cleveland to 2-of-17 from the floor.

Mosley called it a “will and a want” for the Magic in starting the third quarter as they took control of the game.

“These guys took on the challenge at halftime by our coaches and with each other knowing that it had to be a defensive game,” Mosley explained.  “If you wanted to get out and run, we had to get stops first and part of that is finishing possessions to get out and go and that is what you saw in the third quarter.”

The Magic took its biggest lead at 80-67 on a layup by Banchero with 1:21 left in the third quarter as Cleveland didn’t score for 8:15 in the period.

Orlando’s defense struggled in the 121-111 loss at Cleveland last Wednesday as the Cavs shot 53.5 percent from the field. The Magic came into Monday’s rematch with more focus on stopping the Cavaliers’ offense.

“To hold that team, with those two (Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell), the pick and roll options they have, and the snipers all around is not easy,” said Magic guard Jalen Suggs.

Trailing 65-64 with 6:35 to play in the third quarter, Banchero scored six points in a 12-0 run that turned into 16-2 when they took the 80-67 lead. Garland scored on a reverse layup to give Cleveland its first field goal since Garland’s three-pointer off the left base with 9:23 remaining in the decisive third period.

“Trusting each other and then locking in and staying locked in on the defensive side, I just think that’s what won the game for us,” said Banchero.