May 27th, 2024

Magic hand Cavaliers worst playoff loss in franchise history, win 121-83 to cut their deficit to 2-1

By Dick Scanlon, The Associated Press on April 25, 2024.

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – Paolo Banchero had 31 points and 14 rebounds, Jalen Suggs added 24 points and the Orlando Magic handed Cleveland the worst playoff loss in franchise history, winning 121-83 on Thursday night to cut the Cavaliers’ lead to 2-1 in their Eastern Conference first-round series.

Franz Wagner finished with 16 points and eight assists for the Magic, who led by 43 points in the fourth quarter on the way to the third-largest margin of victory in a playoff game. They earned their first playoff victory since 2020 and the first on their home floor since April 26, 2011.

They can even the series with a victory at home Saturday afternoon.

Jarrett Allen had 15 points and eight rebounds for the Cavaliers, who shot 39% from the field and 23.5% from 3-point range. Caris LeVert added 15 points and Donovan Mitchell had 13 points and seven assists.

The Cavs’ previous worst playoff loss was a 36-point defeat against Washington on April 24, 2008.

Orlando never had a lead during the first two games in Cleveland but blew this one open in the third quarter. Mitchell, Allen, and Cleveland starters Evan Mobley and Max Strus were taken out of the game with 3:16 left in the period and the Cavaliers down 92-58.

After missing 10 of their first 11 shots and falling behind by seven, the Magic made 34 of their next 52 field-goal attempts and finished the game at 51.1% (47 for 92).

A 3-pointer by Banchero with 5:27 left in the first quarter gave them their first lead of the series and they closed the period on a 13-0 run. Cole Anthony’s 3-pointer at the first-quarter buzzer, his first basket of the series, made it 31-21.

Banchero scored twice and Suggs and Jonathan Isaac hit 3-pointers in a 10-0 run late in the first half that left Orlando with a 55-34 lead.

Banchero and Suggs took over the third quarter, combining for 21 of Orlando’s first 27 points as the Magic stretched their lead to 88-56. Their only playoff victories larger than this one were by 47 over Boston in 1995, and Atlanta by 43 in 2010.

Mitchell, the dominant scorer in the first two game of the series, had one field goal until hitting a 3-pointer with 2:15 left in the half. It was his only 3-pointer of the game.

The Magic made one lineup change after losing the first two games by 14 and 10 points and shooting just 34.3%. Wendell Carter Jr. returned to the starting lineup at center after being replaced by Isaac in Games 1 and 2 and the regular-season finale.

Ashley Moyer-Gleich was part of the officiating crew for the game, her first NBA playoff assignment. Moyer-Gleich became the second woman to be part of a referee crew in the playoffs, joining Violet Palmer, who last worked a playoff game in 2012.

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This story has been corrected to show that Orlando’s previous playoff victory was in 2020. A previous version said that it was in 2019.

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