Dribbles: This time, Cavs keep foot on gas, make determined Magic vanish

CLEVELAND — Random dribbles from the Cavaliers’ 121-111 home win over the Orlando Magic on Wednesday.Donovan Mitchell

1. The Cavs aren’t always dominant and their games aren’t always pretty. But as of late, they’re just winning, baby.

2. We all know this is a bottom-line business, and the Cavs simply have been finding ways to come out on top. This game was an example of that. They’ve now had all their starters healthy for five straight games — and won four. Overall, they’ve won eight of 11.

3. This one had its moments but was rarely exciting. The refs seemed to think they were the show, with the Magic attempting 37 free throws. Sure, plenty were fouls on the Cavs. But some of the calls were debatable. Others were downright bad.

4. That and a dazzling 42 points from center Paolo Banchero were the only things keeping the Magic in it. Otherwise, the Cavs dominated.

5. Donovan Mitchell was his usual spectacular self with 35 points, seven rebounds and six assists — and Darius Garland was equally as good. He went for 26 points and nine assists, and get this, committed not a single turnover. Cleveland was in good shape most of the night. Garland made sure it stayed that way.

6. Coach J.B. Bickerstaff on Garland managing the game: “He’s an extremely efficient basketball player. We know those turnovers aren’t going to last. His job is to make the team go and he did a great job of that tonight.”

7. Max Strus scored 17, with 16 coming in the first half, when the Cavs built a 23-point lead. Evan Mobley came on strong late, finishing 16 points on 8-of-12 shooting. Jarrett Allen added his typical Jarrett Allen night, with eight points on 4-of-5 shooting and 11 boards in 19 minutes.

8. Amazingly, Allen, Mobley and Strus did all this while spending most of the night in foul trouble. Each finished one short of fouling out entirely.

9. Bickerstaff on the night overall: “It felt good to play good basketball. Look up and down the stat sheet and everybody contributed in some way.”

10. Another item of note: The Cavs (12-9) built a lead and started to bend … but never broke. That was different from their last home game, a loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. “We’ve been a lot of games like this and let the rope loose,” Garland said. “It’s good we didn’t do that tonight.”

11. The lesson in all this? “We have to play hard for 48 minutes,” Garland said.

12. By the way, Garland is now tied with Daniel Gibson for seventh in franchise history with 578 3-pointers made. “Booby is my guy,” Garland said, smiling. “I’ll have to let him know about that.”

13. Speaking of threes, man oh man did the Magic throw up some bricks, finishing a rim-rattling 2-of-23 from beyond the arc. “Actually our mindset (entering the game) was to try to keep them out of the paint as much as possible,” Garland admitted.

14. As I mentioned earlier, the Cavs have been winning a lot lately, as the numbers show. But this was their first win over a team with a winning record in a while. As of this moment, they’re just two games back of the young Magic (14-7), who entered the night in third place in the East.

15. George Niang added 10 points off the bench, including a drive to the basket that ended with him sort of falling and entirely facing the wrong way, then flipping it in over his head. That’s just the Niang way. Also, Dean Wade returned from an ankle injury to offer an underrated eight points and five rebounds in 14 minutes.

16. Things only get more difficult from here — as the Cavs are about to embark on a difficult road trip. The fun starts with a visit to the Miami Heat on Friday. Then it’s the Magic again, this time in Orlando (on Monday). After that? Two against the Celtics in Boston.

17. Mitchell with the final word to Bally Sports: “It’s a good win against a tough team. Now we gotta keep it going.”

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