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Zeller steps up in Cavs' win over Magic

The SportsXchange

ORLANDO, Fla. -- It has not been an easy first season in the NBA for Cavaliers center Tyler Zeller.

For one quarter, though, he sure made it look easy, showing why the Cavaliers believe he can become the center they need for a promising future.

After a not-so-gentle prodding by an assistant coach at halftime, Zeller exploded with a big third quarter that sparked the Cavs and carried them to a 118-94 victory over the Orlando Magic on Saturday night.

Zeller had 12 points and six rebounds in the 10 minutes after intermission, turning a halftime tie into a 13-point lead the Cavs never lost.

He finished with 16 points, seven rebounds and a blocked shot. The Cavs were led in scoring by reserve Marreese Speights and Alonzo Gee, who had 18 and 17, respectively, but it was Zeller who gave them the second-half momentum they never lost.

He had five offensive rebounds and a steal in the third quarter, turning four of them into baskets.

"It felt real good, like I was in a zone there for a little while. I was just playing, not thinking too much," Zeller said. "I've been in the league long enough that I should be able to do that more often."

The Cavs, who play Sunday night in Miami, won their second consecutive game. The Magic lost their fifth consecutive game.

Cavs All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving had a quiet game with 12 points and nine assists in 30 minutes. They didn't need him in the fourth quarter. Reserve C.J. Miles had 16 points.

The disjointed Magic (15-41) used all three of the players obtained in Thursday's trade with Milwaukee, but it didn't help much. They only got worse as the game progressed.

The Magic were led by Aaron Afflalo with 16 points. Newly acquired Tobias Harris had 14 points and six rebounds. Beno Udrih, also acquired in the same trade that cost the Magic J.J. Redick, had 10 points and seven assists.

The Cavs (18-37) beat the Magic earlier this month in Cleveland. Cavs forward Tristan Thompson led both teams with 11 rebounds.

The Cavs blistered the Magic early in the fourth quarter, then coasted home. Speights had 14 points in the second half.

"I thought Tyler in the second half played extremely well. He just got really aggressive and physical in the third quarter," Cavs coach Byron Scott said. "He got aggressive on the defensive end, and it turned him around. We did a lot of good things tonight in the second half."

The Magic didn't waste any time getting their new players involved. Udrih, Doron Lamb and Harris, all obtained in the trade Thursday with Milwaukee, entered as reserves late in the first quarter.

With starting point guard Jameer Nelson missing his second consecutive game with a bruised left knee, Udrih had a quick impact with six points and four assists in his 11 first-half minutes.

Although the Magic trailed by as many as 10 points in the second quarter, the game was tied at 51 at halftime. Gee led all scorers with 10 points before intermission.

The Magic certainly were balanced early, with six players each getting six points. They also had six turnovers.

NOTES: Udrih, Lamb and Harris, Orlando's three new players who were obtained in Thursday's trade with Milwaukee, got their first taste of the Magic offense during a short pregame workout. "We'll incorporate them as quickly as possible," Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. Udrih and Vaughn were teammates with the Spurs when they won an NBA title together during the 2006-07 season. ... This was a game filled with inexperienced players. Of the 10 starting players, four were rookies and four were second-year players. ... Cavs forward Omri Casspi missed the game after he was taken earlier in the day to an Orlando hospital because of "acute abdominal pain," according to the team. ... Cleveland's little-used Daniel Gibson missed the game for "personal reasons," Scott said. Anderson Varejao, who hasn't played since Dec. 19 and is not expected back anytime soon, made the trip. ... The Magic gave the No. 12 that Dwight Howard wore for eight seasons to Harris. Lamb picked No. 1 because he grew up a fan of Penny Hardaway, the former Magic All-Star who wore that number in Orlando.
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