Waiters, Irving lead Cavs past Magic

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

ORLANDO, Fla. -- For a guy who really doesn't like his role as a reserve, guard Dion Waiters sure is playing it well now for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
While All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving led the Cavaliers Friday night with 31 points, it was Waiters who sparked the 109-100 victory over the Orlando Magic with an incendiary, fourth-quarter burst.
Waiters had 21 points, including 14 in the first five minutes of that final period, giving the Cavaliers the momentum they never lost.
"I just have the mindset that when I get on the court, nobody can stop you," he said. "I have to turn it up and be aggressive now, impact the game in every way I can when I'm on the court. It's like I'm always in a zone."
In the fourth quarter, when the Cavs went from trailing by six to leading by 10, Waiters hit six of his nine shots and three of four free throws for 16 points, three assists, a block and a steal.
"For now that's the role he is in," Cavs coach Mike Brown said. "You saw the burst he gave us tonight. He carried us in that stretch. He hit shot after shot after shot."
In his last eight games, all as a reserve, Waiters has scored at least 20 points five times, including 30 points in a loss to the Atlanta Hawks. Although he'd rather be starting alongside Irving, the Cavs are winning now, grabbing their fifth victory in the last six games.
"He (Waiters) was aggressive when we needed him to be," said Irving, who had his second consecutive game of at least 30 points. "He did a great job of just letting the game come to him. This was another stepping stone for us. We got better tonight, and we're moving in the right direction."
The Cavs (9-13), who play Saturday night in Miami, won just their second road game of the season.
The Magic (7-16) were led by rookie guard Victor Oladipo, who matched his season -high with 26 points. Guards Jameer Nelson and Arron Afflalo each added 17 points for Orlando.
Tempers flared briefly with 10 seconds remaining -- after the game was decided -- when Orlando forward Andrew Nicholson fouled center Anderson Varejao well after he had scored. His foul sent Varejao into the basket standard. Coaches came off both benches to separate players and a Flagrant II foul was called against Nicholson, who was ejected.
"I still don't know what happened. I laid the ball up and a second later somebody hit me," Varejao said. "Yes, I was surprised. The game was over, and there was no need for that."
The Cavs already were ahead by eight and the Magic were expecting them to dribble out the clock.
"I think he was concerned about it being the end of the game, and his thought process was they could've dribbled it out," Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. "He reacted when he saw Varejao shoot it at the end. That's a progression of Andrew's (Nicholson) mentality."
Varejao, who hurt his right knee earlier in the game, led everyone with 14 rebounds in 32 minutes. He added 10 points.
The Cavs made a 14-0 run midway in the fourth, getting a pair of 3-point baskets by undrafted rookie guard Matthew Dellavedova, building a 95-85 lead they never lost.
The Magic led 76-73 going into the fourth and had controlled much of the game. Oladipo and Irving took turns dominating the third quarter with 12 and 11 points, respectively.
After the Cavs took a brief lead early in the third quarter, the Magic made a 9-0 run, which included three baskets by Oladipo. The Magic led 64-56 on a 3-point basket by Nelson. Irving completed a 3-point play that pulled the Cavs within four.
The Magic led 51-50 at intermission, outscoring the Cavs 19-2 in fast-break points in the first two periods.
The Magic led by as many as 14 points in the first quarter, but the Cavs rallied in the second, tying the game at 40 on a pair of free throws from guard Jarrett Jack. Irving hit a pair of 3-pointers in the last 1:20 of the first half, allowing the Cavs to pull within one.
Irving had 16 points before halftime, but both Cavs starting forwards Alonzo Gee and Tristan Thompson were scoreless. Starting center Andrew Bynum took one shot and scored two.
Varejao limped off the court in the second period holding his right knee and looking in serious pain after a collision with Oladipo. But he returned to play in the third.
NOTES: Magic F Tobias Harris, who missed 21 of the first 22 games because of an ankle sprain, was activated Friday after a frustrating start to his season. "I'm a competitor and a winner, and that speaks louder than any points or rebounds I put up," he said before the game. "I'm ready to go." ... Cavs veteran C-F Anderson Varejao remains the subject of trade rumors involving the Houston Rockets, who are looking to move disgruntled C Omer Asik. The Rockets are looking at Varejao as a potential complement to star C Dwight Howard. ... Rookie F Anthony Bennett, the No. 1 pick of the 2013 Draft, is shooting just 23.7 percent from the field and averaging only 10.4 minutes per game. "There is no pressure on him," coach Mike Brown insisted before the game. "He's progressing well." ... The Cavs came into the game ranked second in the league against the 3-point shot in their home games but 27th on the road. It helps explain why they have a 7-3 record at home but came to Orlando with a league-worst 1-10 record on the road. "That is a huge difference," Brown said. "This is as black and white as it can be." ... As part of their season-long, 25th-year anniversary celebration, the Magic honored former player Dennis Scott on Friday night. Scott, now an analyst for NBA-TV, played seven seasons with the Magic and was regarded as one of the league's best 3-point shooters. Asked who the best 3-point shooter he ever saw in the NBA, he smiled. "He's sitting right here," Scott said, referring to himself. "I can still shoot the ball with the best of them. I just can't move anymore."

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