Hustle and effort help Magic earn Game 7 shot in Cleveland

Diving for loose balls.

Deflecting passes.

Fighting for positioning on the boards.

The Magic gave it their all against the Cavs during Friday’s Game 6 and had no choice otherwise inside an electric Kia Center.

Running on fumes after five physical and energy-draining games in the best-of-seven series, Orlando fought back and forth with Cleveland to win 103-96 behind a combined 75 points from Paolo Banchero (27), Franz Wagner (26), and Jalen Suggs (22).

“They trusted each other,” Magic coach Jamahl Mosley said about his team after the win. “They trusted the pass. They understand who had it going and they didn’t shy away from it.

“It’s always been by committee,” he added. “This group is very special in the way in which they keep pulling for each other no matter what’s happening.”

With the must-win victory to avoid elimination, the Magic now have a chance to win their first playoff series since 2010 as Mosley’s squad heads to Cleveland for Sunday’s Game 7 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

It marks Orlando’s first Game 7 in the playoffs since the franchise’s run to the 2009 NBA Finals.

But in order to advance and face No. 1 Boston in the conference semifinals, the Magic will have to do something neither they nor the Cavs have done this series — win on the road.

“It’s not going to be easy nor do we want it to be easy,” Mosley said.

Trailing the Magic by 4 points at halftime of Game 6, Cleveland took control of the contest by opening the third quarter on a 17-4 run. Powered by back-to-back triples from Banchero and Suggs, Orlando was able to cut the deficit to 1 point but the Cavs still led by 5 entering the final frame.

The Magic pieced together a strong start to the fourth quarter and free throws from Wagner knotted the score at 87 with 4:42 remaining.

From there, the Magic poured it on from 3-point range to regain a lead late and never relinquish it. First, it was Suggs who sank his sixth triple of the night, and then Banchero, who later made 4 free throws to put the final result on ice.

“Stay the course,” Mosley said when asked what he told Orlando throughout the second half. “It’s a long game. We have to understand it’s a game of runs.”

Suggs and Banchero each played the entire first quarter while the Magic grabbed just their second lead of the series after the opening frame. Orlando led by 10 points after first quarter of Game 3 and then by 4 on Friday.

That was largely due to Wagner’s 14-point first quarter when he shot 5 of 8 from the field to start Game 6. That included four baskets in the paint where he attacked with confidence and got to the free throw line (5 of 5 in the opening half).

Perhaps most impressive by the Magic’s defensive effort was the fact that, despite Cleveland All-NBA guard Donovan Mitchell totaling 50 points, the Cavs didn’t crack 100 points for the fifth time this series.

Mitchell scored all of Cleveland’s points in the fourth quarter when the Magic outscored the Cavs 30-18 in the final 12 minutes.

The Magic and the Cavs were both missing a starter for the pivotal contest.

Considered game-time decisions Orlando guard Gary Harris (right hamstring strain) and Cleveland center Jarrett Allen (right rib contusion) were both ruled out less than an hour before tip-off.

Jason Beede can be reached at

If you go …

Magic vs. Cavs, Game 7

When: Sunday at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse

How to watch: ABC