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Strugglesville: Cavs blow big lead, end Magic 104-103

CLEVELAND (AP) There was none of the usual postgame chatter or music in the Cavaliers locker room.

The mood was somber and quiet, not the same place.

''Right now we're in Strugglesville,'' LeBron James said. ''But it felt like a win. We needed it. Definitely.''

Isaiah Thomas made two free throws with 11 seconds left and Cleveland came up with a defensive stop in the frantic final seconds after blowing a 23-point lead to beat the Orlando Magic 104-103 on Thursday night and snap a four-game losing streak.

After Thomas made his shots, Orlando's Elfrid Payton missed a contested layup with three seconds left. The three officials ruled there was an inadvertent whistle and held a jump ball at midcourt.

Magic forward Aaron Gordon grabbed the toss and sank a 45-footer as the horn sounded and Cleveland's crowd shrieked in disbelief. But Gordon committed a jump-ball violation with the move and Cleveland only had to inbound the ball to come away with a victory following a crazy and exhausting final sequence that left everyone dazed.

''No, I don't,'' said Thomas when asked if he knew what happened. ''It was a lot of back and forth. I'm just glad we just came out with the win.''

James committed six turnovers and went 2 of 8 from the free-throw line but closed in on 30,000 career points, Thomas scored 21 and came through in crunch time and the Cavs got their fourth win in 13 games.

However, some of the same problems - defensive lapses, stagnant offense - that have plagued the Cavs for much of the season resurfaced in the second half, when Orlando outscored Cleveland 56-37.

''Obviously we know we've been struggling as of late,'' James said. ''We're just trying to figure out how we can put two halves together. Obviously we had a great first half on Monday (against Golden State), great first half today and the same result. So we've got to keep pushing, keep watching film and seeing ways we can be better.''

James scored 16 and now needs 25 to become the seventh player in NBA history to reach 30,000. He'll likely reach the plateau on Saturday when Cleveland hosts Oklahoma City.

The Cavs were rolling to a rare, easy win before they went cold from the outside and were outscored 33-17 in the third quarter by the Magic, who have dropped 17 of 19. Cleveland went 1 for 17 on 3-pointers in the second half.

Payton scored 19 and Gordon 17 for Orlando, which felt a few calls should have gone their way in the final seconds.

Thomas was sent to the line with 11 seconds left when referee Kane Fitzgerald called a foul on Orlando's Shelvin Mack. Magic coach Frank Vogel felt Mack had tied up Thomas to force a jump ball.

''I'm disappointed for our guys,'' Vogel said. ''I felt like they deserved the victory. We didn't get the breaks down the stretch.''

ROSE RETURNS

Cavs guard Derrick Rose returned after missing more than two months with ankle injuries and scored nine points in 13 minutes.

Rose deepens Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue's rotation and the former league MVP gives the Cavs another proven scorer.

''I thought he looked pretty good,'' James said. ''For as long as he's been out, can't ask for much. He gave us everything he had. Defensively he was in tune, offensively he made some great moves.''

CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN

Before the game, James was chosen as one of the captains for this year's All-Star game after receiving the most votes in balloting by fans, players and media. James will have first choice from a pool of selected players, which will include former Cavs teammate Kyrie Irving and players from Western Conference teams.

James wouldn't reveal his No. 1 pick, but made it clear he's going to take his duties seriously.

''I'm going to try to build the best team I can,'' he said. ''I don't play fantasy anything. And I don't trade guys onto teams when I play 2K or play the video games so this is different for me. But I know watching guys and loving their game and all that, if you had an opportunity to play with that guy, how special that would be.''

TIP-INS

Magic: Played without G Aaron Afflalo, suspended two games without pay by the NBA for fighting with Minnesota's Nemanja Bjelica on Tuesday. ... Earlier this season, Orlando snapped a 17-game losing streak against Cleveland. ... Vogel burned some early timeouts to scold his players after they gave up six 3-pointers in the opening minutes. ...

Cavaliers: James will make his 14th straight All-Star start, one behind Kobe Bryant's record. ... James set a goal to play 82 games, and Lue said that's a possibility although it's expected the four-time MVP will be rested for the playoffs. ''He has to understand that his health is most important and without that we can't go very far,'' Lue said. ''We just have to be smart about it.''

UP NEXT

Magic: At Boston on Sunday.

Cavaliers: Host Oklahoma City on Saturday.

Copyright 2018 by AP. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of AP is strictly prohibited.

Key Players
A. Gordon
00 PF
L. James
23 SF
36.9 Min. Per Game 36.9
27.3 Pts. Per Game 27.3
8.8 Ast. Per Game 8.8
8.0 Reb. Per Game 8.0
45.5 Field Goal % 55.4
45.4 Three Point % 55.4
74.0 Free Throw % 75.4
  Team rebound 0:00
  Elfrid Payton missed driving layup 0:00
+ 1 Isaiah Thomas made 2nd of 2 free throws 0:11
+ 1 Isaiah Thomas made 1st of 2 free throws 0:11
  Shooting foul on Shelvin Mack 0:11
  Offensive rebound by Isaiah Thomas 0:15
  Kevin Love missed driving dunk 0:19
+ 2 Shelvin Mack made jump shot 0:31
  Offensive rebound by Shelvin Mack 0:31
  Aaron Gordon missed 3-pt. jump shot 0:35
  Bad pass turnover on LeBron James, stolen by Aaron Gordon 0:46
Team Stats
Points 103 104
Field Goals 41-88 (46.6%) 38-85 (44.7%)
3-Pointers 5-22 (22.7%) 10-34 (29.4%)
Free Throws 16-21 (76.2%) 18-27 (66.7%)
Total Rebounds 54 54
Offensive 10 14
Defensive 33 31
Team 11 9
Assists 25 22
Steals 11 8
Blocks 6 5
Turnovers 14 19
Fouls 22 22
Technicals 0 0
19 PTS, 4 REB, 8 AST
21 PTS, 3 REB, 4 AST
1234T
away team logo Magic 13-32 20273323103
home team logo Cavaliers 27-17 36311720104
Team Stats
away team logo Magic 13-32 104.0 PPG 42.6 RPG 25.3 APG
home team logo Cavaliers 27-17 103.4 PPG 43.9 RPG 19.9 APG
Key Players
E. Payton PG PPG RPG APG FG%
I. Thomas PG PPG RPG APG FG%
Top Scorers
E. Payton PG 19 PTS 4 REB 8 AST
I. Thomas PG 21 PTS 3 REB 4 AST
46.6 FG% 44.7
22.7 3PT FG% 29.4
76.2 FT% 66.7
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
E. Payton 30 19 4 8 2 1 3 1 9/17 1/1 0/0 2 2 39 +8
E. Fournier 32 17 5 3 1 0 1 5 6/15 1/3 4/5 1 4 28 -7
A. Gordon 35 17 11 2 3 0 2 2 7/20 2/10 1/2 2 9 33 +2
J. Simmons 35 16 3 4 2 1 2 2 5/10 0/2 6/8 0 3 28 +4
B. Biyombo 25 4 10 1 0 2 1 4 1/2 0/0 2/2 0 10 17 +7
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
E. Payton 30 19 4 8 2 1 3 1 9/17 1/1 0/0 2 2 39 +8
E. Fournier 32 17 5 3 1 0 1 5 6/15 1/3 4/5 1 4 28 -7
A. Gordon 35 17 11 2 3 0 2 2 7/20 2/10 1/2 2 9 33 +2
J. Simmons 35 16 3 4 2 1 2 2 5/10 0/2 6/8 0 3 28 +4
B. Biyombo 25 4 10 1 0 2 1 4 1/2 0/0 2/2 0 10 17 +7
Bench MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
M. Hezonja 24 12 2 0 2 0 2 3 5/11 0/4 2/2 0 2 14 +5
S. Mack 11 10 3 0 0 1 1 2 5/5 0/0 0/0 2 1 13 -5
K. Birch 16 4 4 2 0 1 0 0 2/3 0/0 0/0 2 2 13 -6
M. Speights 5 3 0 1 0 0 0 2 1/2 1/2 0/0 0 0 5 -2
D. Augustin 17 1 1 3 1 0 2 1 0/3 0/0 1/2 1 0 7 -9
W. Iwundu 4 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0 2 -2
A. Afflalo - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
N. Vucevic - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
T. Ross - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Artis - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
A. Payne - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Isaac - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 234 103 43 25 11 6 14 22 41/88 5/22 16/21 10 33 199 -5
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
I. Thomas 29 21 3 4 2 0 2 0 6/15 3/10 6/7 2 1 32 -1
L. James 34 16 5 6 1 0 6 1 7/16 0/4 2/8 1 4 28 -4
K. Love 31 12 11 2 1 1 1 3 3/10 1/6 5/6 0 11 28 -3
J. Crowder 22 10 5 0 1 0 1 3 4/5 2/2 0/0 2 3 15 +3
J. Smith 29 6 2 3 0 0 1 3 2/7 2/6 0/0 1 1 13 -2
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
I. Thomas 29 21 3 4 2 0 2 0 6/15 3/10 6/7 2 1 32 -1
L. James 34 16 5 6 1 0 6 1 7/16 0/4 2/8 1 4 28 -4
K. Love 31 12 11 2 1 1 1 3 3/10 1/6 5/6 0 11 28 -3
J. Crowder 22 10 5 0 1 0 1 3 4/5 2/2 0/0 2 3 15 +3
J. Smith 29 6 2 3 0 0 1 3 2/7 2/6 0/0 1 1 13 -2
Bench MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
D. Wade 18 11 1 1 0 1 3 4 5/11 1/2 0/0 1 0 12 +2
J. Green 26 10 8 1 2 1 0 3 4/8 0/1 2/2 1 7 23 -3
D. Rose 13 9 3 1 0 1 2 0 3/6 0/1 3/4 1 2 13 +5
T. Thompson 16 6 6 0 1 1 1 3 3/5 0/0 0/0 5 1 13 +4
K. Korver 16 3 1 4 0 0 2 1 1/2 1/2 0/0 0 1 10 +4
J. Holland - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
I. Shumpert - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
L. Perrantes - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
C. Osman - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
A. Zizic - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
C. Frye - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Calderon - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 234 104 45 22 8 5 19 22 38/85 10/34 18/27 14 31 187 +5