Visitors determined to snap ill-timed skid
LeBron James may not lap the field when it comes to 2016-17 NBA MVP honors. His performance Thursday in Detroit, however, provided plenty of justification for a fifth such award.
Cleveland’s leader racked up 29 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists against the Pistons. Yet James’ career-best eighth triple-double couldn’t prevent his squad from self-destructing in the fourth quarter. Andre Drummond & Co. rallied from 15 down to pull out a 106-101 win at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
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Having lost three straight, the Cavaliers (42-21) now must find traction in Orlando. The two clubs clash this evening, with a 7 p.m. ET tip at Amway Center. Online sports book Bovada.lv gives Tyronn Lue’s troops odds of -475 to take care of business on the road. Conversely, the Magic represent +375 underdogs.
To suggest that James isn’t receiving much help would be a bit disingenuous. Kyrie Irving has scored 20-plus points in 14 consecutive contests. The fact remains, though, that the Cavs are only 5-5 since Kevin Love underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on Feb. 14.
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Thanks largely to Aaron Gordon’s ascent, Orlando’s (24-42) busy engineering a late-season turnaround. The Arizona product continues to thrive at power forward, averaging 16.0 points and 6.7 boards over his last six games. Coach Frank Vogel can depend on strong efforts from Elfrid Payton, Evan Fournier and Terrence Ross for the majority of nights, too.
Unfortunately, the Magic probably won’t get to operate at full strength in several hours. Center Nikola Vucevic keeps dealing with a sore right Achilles, and Orlando obviously needs every available resource to tackle Cleveland. Count on the visiting gang to bounce back in a big way.
SATURDAY NBA FREE PICK: CAVALIERS -9