ORLANDO, FLA.: For a team that has struggled to win on the road this season, the Cavs’ only two road victories have both been big comebacks.
Kyrie Irving had 31 points and Dion Waiters had 21, including 16 in a red-hot fourth quarter, and the Cavaliers rallied from 14 down in the first quarter to beat the Orlando Magic on Friday 109-100. It was just their second road win of the season.
The Cavs trailed 26-12 in the first quarter, making this their second-largest comeback of the season. Their largest comeback was also their only other road victory, when they trailed by 15 at the Washington Wizards before winning in overtime.
Waiters missed his first five shots, all in the first half, before catching fire in the fourth quarter. He made 6 of 9 shots at one point and scored the Cavs’ first 14 points of the fourth quarter – all within 5 ½ minutes. His driving layup tied the game at 85, then his jumper gave the Cavs an 87-85 lead. Matthew Dellavedova followed with a pair of 3-pointers to give the Cavs a 95-85 lead while the Magic went scoreless for more than three minutes.
Irving followed his 37-point performance Tuesday against the New York Knicks by going 12-for-24 against the Magic. He had 27 points through the third quarter before watching from the bench while Waiters commanded the first six minutes of the fourth quarter.
After the starters fell behind in the first quarter, Mike Brown stuck with his bench for the bulk of the second quarter and they delivered. The Cavs’ reserves combined for 60 points and 31 rebounds in the victory.
The Cavs survived a scare late in the first half when Anderson Varejao crumpled to the ground holding his right knee. All of his teammates surrounded him on the court while Varejao was attended to, but he walked off under his own power and was able to play the second half. Varejao, who had season-ended surgery on the knee last season, had 10 points and 14 rebounds.
He went down again in the final 10 seconds when he scored the Cavs’ final basket on a breakaway, then was shoved to the ground by the Magic’s Andrew Nicholson. Varejao remained on the ground for a few moments under the basket while Waiters charged at Nicholson and began shouting at him. Players had to be separated before the incident intensified. Nicholson was assessed a flagrant-2 and ejected.
Victor Oladipo, the second overall pick in last summer’s draft behind Anthony Bennett, had 26 points, five assists, four steals and four rebounds. Bennett played just nine minutes and scored six points in the 1 vs. 2 matchup.