The Orlando Magic answered a fast start to the season by stumbling in each of their past two contests.
The Magic aim to regain their footing on Monday when they host the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first of two consecutive games. The teams will meet again on Wednesday.
After starting 4-0 for the first time in franchise history, Orlando dropped a 116-92 decision to the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday and a 108-99 setback two nights later the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Nikola Vucevic collected a season-high 30 points and 13 rebounds in the loss to the Thunder. He made 13 of 21 attempts from the floor, however the rest of his teammates weren’t as fortunate. They made just 27 of 87 shots.
“We missed a lot of open shots,” said Aaron Gordon, who made 6 of 15 shots from the floor and 1 of 6 from 3-point range.
“Some nights they don’t go in. But that’s on us. That’s on us to make sure that we are ready to play and that our games are in rhythm and that we’re able to knock down shots when we are open.”
The fourth quarter particularly was troublesome, as the Magic made just 8 of 28 shots from the floor and misfired on all 10 of their 3-point attempts.
“Maybe the biggest stretch of the game we had (a) missed dunk, missed layup, which led at the other end to two open 3s for them which they made,” Magic coach Steve Clifford said. “We certainly had our chances.”
Orlando will have its chance to get back on track versus Cleveland. The Magic won all three meetings in 2019-20, with Vucevic recording 21 points and 10 rebounds in the season opener.
Terrence Ross, who averages a team-best 22 points per game this season, had 21 points in a 93-87 victory over the Cavaliers on Dec. 6, 2019.
Cleveland rallied from a 15-point deficit in the second half to post a 96-91 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday.
Collin Sexton calmly sank a go-ahead 3-pointer with 27.9 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to help the Cavaliers snap a modest two-game skid.
“He’s a walking bucket,” coach J.B. Bickerstaff told Cleveland.com of Sexton, who is averaging a team-high 26 points per game.
“There are certain people who have a knack for putting the ball in the basket all sorts of ways. The kid is not afraid of the biggest moments. When we needed a basket, he went and manufactured a basket, and that’s a unique skill.”
Sexton scored 13 of his game-high 27 points in the fourth quarter, extending his streak of 20-point performances to 11 games dating back to last season. Sexton, in fact, is the first player to record at least 20 points in each of the Cavaliers’ first six games of a season since LeBron James accomplished the feat in 2004-05.
Andre Drummond also etched his name into the franchise record books. He had 12 points and 11 rebounds to notch his sixth straight double-double to start a season, one more than Mark Price (1988-89), Brad Daugherty (1991-92) and Kevin Love (2019-20).
Sexton averaged 18.3 points in three meetings with Orlando last season, while Drummond had 18 rebounds in a game against the Magic last season while playing with Detroit.
–Field Level Media