The Cleveland Cavaliers would like nothing more than to halt their current losing streak.
And head coach J.B. Bickerstaff's team is not alone.
The Orlando Magic tip off a two-game road swing on Saturday night in Cleveland. It marks the season's first meeting between the Eastern Conference foes as both clubs look to stop five-game slides.
The Cavaliers have not won since Nov. 13 -- a 91-89 decision over Boston -- as their overall record has slipped below the .500 mark following a 9-5 start. The Orlando matchup ends Cleveland's four-game homestand, which included single-digit defeats to the red-hot Phoenix Suns as well as the Brooklyn Nets.
Phoenix outscored the Cavaliers 13-8 over the last three minutes on Wednesday, securing a 120-115 victory and the 14th consecutive win for the Suns. Cleveland's Jarrett Allen had 25 points and 11 rebounds, highlighted by a 9-for-10 shooting performance from the floor, and teammate Cedi Osman came off the bench to make five 3-pointers and score 23 points in 28 minutes.
Darius Garland added 19 points and Lauri Markkanen had 14 points against Phoenix, while Ricky Rubio (15 points, five assists) and Kevin Love (14 points, eight rebounds) also provided key minutes off the bench for Cleveland.
"Obviously, it was a tough evening for us, but for 48 minutes we were right there," Osman said after the Phoenix loss. "We compete. That's what we do from the beginning of the season. Obviously, it's a very tough game for us because we knew that we had a chance to win this game, but we just couldn't pull it off. We got another game on Saturday and we just have to get ready for that game."
The undermanned Cavaliers press on with guard Collin Sexton out for the remainder of the season following knee surgery. Versatile 6-foot-11 rookie Evan Mobley is listed as probable for Saturday as he recovers from a sprained right elbow, while Lamar Stevens is questionable with a right ankle sprain.
Orlando is among the league leaders in most games missed by injured players.
The Magic started the season without Markelle Fultz (knee), Jonathan Isaac (knee), Michael Carter-Williams (ankle) and E'Twaun Moore (knee). Leading scorer Cole Anthony also missed his fourth consecutive game on Friday because of a sprained right ankle.
Magic President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman spoke with the media on Friday. Much of the discussion centered around Orlando's injury situation and how it has affected a young roster directed by new head coach Jamahl Mosley, who was a Cleveland assistant coach from 2010-14.
"Clearly, we're still facing injuries that we brought into the season and some that we've developed this season that have kind of shuffled the roster around a little bit," Weltman said. "But I think there's been great internal growth, and I think that our young players are getting better. They're soaking up a lot of minutes, a lot of experience that I think will serve them and our team well in the long run."
Orlando has lost eight of its last nine games, while Friday's 123-88 loss to Chicago was the Magic's biggest this season. Five of Orlando's 16 defeats have come by 25 or more points.
Former Bulls first-round pick Wendell Carter Jr. excelled against his former team with a season-high 26 points and 10 rebounds, but Chicago outscored Orlando 68-42 in the second half.
--Field Level Media
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