A Friday night that started with such promise for the Orlando Magic ended in frustration.
They jumped out to a 14-point lead in the first quarter and led by as many as six points in the fourth. Their prized rookie guard played one of his best games. And they also welcomed one of their best scorers back from injury.
It all came crashing down.
Dion Waiters scored the Cleveland Cavaliers' first 14 points of the fourth quarter and led his team to a 109-100 comeback win over the Magic at Amway Center.
"It's a game we were supposed to win," Magic power forward Glen Davis said. "You just can't give games up like that. It's just sad we can't get that game back."
The loss — the Magic's seventh loss in their last eight games — was ugly.
The ending was uglier.
With Cleveland ahead 106-100 with 10.2 seconds left, the Cavs' Anderson Varejao made an uncontested layup. Magic power forward Andrew Nicholson pushed Varejao from behind, and Varejao fell to the parquet court clutching his left knee.
Referees reviewed the play and called a Flagrant-2 foul on Nicholson, resulting in Nicholson's ejection.
"I didn't mean to hurt him," Nicholson said afterward. "I didn't try to hurt him. I don't think I pushed him that hard, but it's just a part of the game."
Varejao said: "Yes, I was surprised. The game was over and there was no need for that."
Waiters confronted Nicholson after the play, and Nicholson walked away.
In retrospect, Waiters already had made his statement.
Waiters finished with 21 points while Kyrie Irving added a game-high 31 points.
Their performances spoiled one of the better nights Magic rookie guard Victor Oladipo has had all season, and it also blemished the return of Tobias Harris.
Oladipo tied a career-high by scoring 26 points, and he also collected five rebounds, dished out four assists and recorded four steals.
"Toward the end of the game, they hit shots and we missed shots that we would normally make," Oladipo said. "It's all a growing process for us. It's a really long season."
Harris, now recovered from a high-ankle sprain in his left leg, played in his second game of the season.
In almost 15 minutes, Harris scored 10 points on 3-of-8 shooting and grabbed five rebounds. Best of all for the Magic, he said his leg felt fine after the game.
Davis didn't play at all in the fourth after he had been a starter and had played a total of almost 23 minutes over the first three quarters.
Asked how the game slipped away, Davis responded, "No comment."
When a reporter followed up by asking whether players on the bench should've been on the floor in the fourth, Davis answered, "I don't know. No comment. I have no idea about that."
Oladipo played the entire third quarter — scoring 12 points on 5-of-5 shooting in the period — but he was on Orlando's bench for the first 5 minutes, 29 seconds of the fourth.
From the beginning of the fourth quarter to the moment Oladipo went back into the game, Cleveland had turned a 76-73 deficit into a 90-85 lead.
"I just think they had shot-makers," Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. "At the end of the day, that's what the NBA is about: being able to cause the defense to react and putting the ball in the bucket. And Dion Waiters was able to do it, and Kyrie was able to do it down the stretch."
The Magic (7-16) just couldn't withstand the Cavaliers (9-13) late.
"It's the NBA: Every team is going to make a run," Magic point guard Jameer Nelson said. "You can't let down. You've got to take their punch and deliver yours back."
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