LeBron James' triple-double helps Cleveland Cavaliers snap skid vs. Orlando Magic

By Tim Povtak, The Sports Xchange  |  March 12, 2017 at 1:01 AM
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- LeBron James did what he always does -- dominate the game -- but this time the Cleveland Cavaliers followed his lead perfectly.

James had 24 points, 13 assists and 12 rebounds in leading a well-balanced attack that beat the Orlando Magic 116-104 and snapped a troubling, three-game losing streak Saturday night.

James recorded his second consecutive triple-double, his career-high ninth of the season and the 51st of his career.

The Cavs (43-21) never trailed in the second half, although the Magic (24-43) tied it once in the third quarter.

"LeBron played at an unbelievable level once again, and we all just followed suit," point guard Kyrie Irving explained. "We just did a great job being there for one another and communicating."

The defending NBA champions had seven players score in double figures. Irving had 22 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Iman Shumpert had 15 points and Tristan Thompson had 14 points and a team-high 13 rebounds.

J.R. Smith scored 11 points and hit three of seven 3-pointers in 20 minutes. Deron Williams scored 10 points, including seven in the fourth quarter. Channing Frye scored 12 points.

Nikola Vucevic led the Magic with 20 points and a game-high 16 rebounds. Aaron Gordon had 16 points, Evan Fournier scored 15 and Terrence Ross had 11.

"We played Cavalier basketball tonight," James said. "Tonight was a good step in the right direction. Everyone has to be productive. It's a process. We don't get too high, and we don't get too low in a long season. I'm just doing whatever I need to do to help this team win."

The Cavaliers hit 15 of 39 from 3-point range, while the Magic managed just 4 of 21 from long distance.

"It was a good win for us, coming off what we've been going through the last few games," Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. "We're used to winning. We still have a lot of pieces to plug in, and a lot of things to figure out, but this was a step in the right direction."

Cleveland plays against the Rockets in Houston on Sunday. The Magic start a three-game road trip that starts Monday in Sacramento.

"You have the best player in the world (James), and the best passer in the world (James) who is able to attack and pick his targets," Magic coach Frank Vogel said. "It's a difficult challenge for us. I felt like our guys deserved a victory for the way we competed, but we just fell short."

C.J. Watson scored seven consecutive points for the Magic midway in the fourth, cutting the deficit to just three points. Williams scored five consecutive points for the Cavs, and the Magic never got that close again.

"They have a lot of weapons, and they play well together," Gordon said. "They are defending NBA champs for a reason. Ty (Lue) puts everybody in the right place, and then LeBron finds people."

The Cavs took an 87-79 lead into the fourth quarter after J.R. Smith hit back-to-back 3-pointers late in the third. Irving had 11 points in the period.

The Magic surged early in the third quarter -- getting a pair of 3s from Fournier -- and tied the game at 63. Richard Jefferson hit a 3-pointer to break the tie, and the Cavs never lost the lead again.

The Cavs led, 59-51, at intermission by hitting 21 of 40 shots (52.5 percent) and getting everyone involved early. At halftime, Shumpert had 12 points, Thompson and Frye 10, Irving 9 and James 8 points. .

The Cavs led by as many as 10 points in the second period after the Magic led, 25-24 after the first quarter.

Shumpert sparked the Cavs early with 10 points in the first five minutes when he hit his first four shots, including a pair of 3s. The Cavs made six of 15 3s before intermission while the Magic missed all seven of theirs from long range.

NOTES: Saturday's victory was the Cavs' 16th consecutive win over the Magic, the longest active streak in the NBA over an individual opponent. Before Saturday, the Cavs were tied with the Oklahoma City Thunder, which has won 15 straight against the Philadelphia 76ers. ... Cavaliers G/F Kyle Korver (sore left foot) missed his second consecutive game. A recent MRI exam revealed inflammation that could keep him out for a week. ... Magic C Nikola Vucevic returned Saturday after missing the previous four games with a sore Achilles. ... According to various reports, the Cavaliers are close to signing free agent C Larry Sanders to replace the recently-signed and quickly-injured Andrew Bogut. ... Cavs C/F Tristan Thompson played in his 434th consecutive game, longest active streak in the NBA and the longest in Cavaliers history. The NBA record is 1,192 consecutive games played by A.C. Green. ... This was Cavs G J.R. Smith's second game back after missing 36 games with a fractured right thumb. ... James came into Saturday night having won 16 consecutive games against the Magic, spanning both Miami and Cleveland.

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