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Cavaliers 119, Magic 98

The SportsXchange

ORLANDO, Fla. - Guard Dion Waiters scored a game-high 26 points and the Cleveland Cavaliers kept their slim playoff hopes alive, pounding the Orlando Magic 119-98 Wednesday night.

Center Spencer Hawes had 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Eighteen of those points came in the first half when the Cavs took control. Forward Tristan Thompson had 20 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.

Guard Kyrie Irving had 17 points, eight assists and six rebounds in 29 minutes, marking his return after an eight-game absence with a strained left bicep muscle. He showed few signs of rust while hitting seven of his eight shots and committing only two turnovers.

The Cavs (31-45) have won five of their last six games. They are chasing the Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Magic were led by rookie guard Victor Oladipo, who had 16 points in a reserve role. Forward Maurice Harkless had 10 points and was the only Magic starter to reach double figures. Reserve guard Doron Lamb had 14 points.

With the Magic offering little resistance defensively, the Cavs shot 57.7 percent from the field (45 of 78).

The Cavs led 94-68 going into the fourth quarter. By then, Thompson, Hawes and Waiters already had reached the 20-point mark.

The Magic never got closer than 17 points in the third quarter and didn't get within 20 in the fourth until the final two minutes when the cut the deficit to 115-98.

The Cavs led 70-47 at intermission. It marked the highest-scoring first half this season for Cleveland and the most points given up in a half for the Magic.

Hawes hit four of five from 3-point range in the first half when he had 18 points to lead all scorers. The Cavs also shot 60.5 percent in those first two periods. Irving had 13 points and five assists in the first half, committing only one early turnover.

The Magic emptied their bench early and 10 players scored in the first half. But they also combined for 11 turnovers.

NOTES: Cavaliers G Kyrie Irving returned Wednesday after missing eight games with a strained left biceps. The Cavs were 4-4 in his absence, but they had won four of the last five. They are 5-6 this season in games that Irving did not play. "Having him on the floor is always a positive for us," Cavs coach Mike Brown said before the game. "It doesn't matter who we are playing." The Cavs also were without F Anderson Varejao because of a shoulder strain sustained Sunday. He had 39 rebounds combined in the two earlier victories over the Magic. ... When Magic PG Jameer Nelson hit a 3-pointer in the first quarter on Wednesday night, it extended Orlando's streak to 566 consecutive games with at least one 3-point basket. ... Magic C Nikola Vucevic scored at least 20 points in the previous three games, a first for him this season. ... The Magic and Cavs had identical 10-21 records on Jan. 1. The Cavs have gone 11-11 on the road since Jan. 1 and the Magic went 1-23. ... The Magic came into the game with 33 consecutive losses when they have been outrebounded.
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