Saturday’s NBA playoffs scores, takeaways: Magic stifle Cavaliers in second half to tie series

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The Orlando Magic came alive in the second half of Saturday’s Game 4 against the Cleveland Cavaliers to secure a 112-89 win and tie the first-round playoff series 2-2.

After carrying a nine-point deficit into the half, Orlando outscored Cleveland 37-10 in the third quarter to take an 18-point lead into the fourth. The Magic continued to limit the Cavs in the fourth, outscoring them 24-19.

Orlando’s Franz Wagner scored a game-high 34 points on 13-of-17 shooting from the field, while Jarrett Allen led the Cavaliers with 21 points.

Magic 112, Cavaliers 89

Series: Tied 2-2

Game 5: Tuesday in Cleveland (TNT)

How Jalen Suggs set the tone for Orlando

You can cite all the X’s and O’s you want, but sometimes these things aren’t all that complicated. The Magic go as far as Jalen Suggs takes them.

He’s their heart and their soul. When Suggs has wreaked havoc on defense and played freely (and relatively mistake-free) on offense, the Magic have bedeviled the Cavs in this series. (And when he’s struggled on the offensive end, as he did in Game 1 and Game 2 and the first half of Game 3, the Magic have struggled, too.)

One of the not-so-subtle adjustments that Magic coach Jamahl Mosley made between Game 2 and Game 3 was deciding to assign Suggs to guard Donovan Mitchell more often instead of predominately placing Gary Harris on Mitchell. Mitchell has had his spurts — particularly in Saturday’s first half — but when Suggs is making things difficult, Orlando’s entire tone changes.

It’s no coincidence that Suggs sank his two 3-pointers in Saturday’s game-changing third quarter and that it was Suggs who got into a face-to-face jawing match with Darius Garland. Those were huge momentum sequences in a quarter filled with them for the Magic. On Saturday, Suggs finished with 12 points, two rebounds, three assists and seven turnovers, but those stats don’t mesh with his real impact in the third quarter.

Game 4 showed Orlando can win even if Paolo Banchero plays badly. Orlando cannot withstand both Banchero and Suggs playing badly.

As these teams head into a pivotal Game 5 in Cleveland on Tuesday, Suggs will be the series’ barometer more than anyone else. — Josh Robbins, Wizards senior writer

Disastrous second half sinks Cavaliers

Teams that win the first two games of a playoff series advance to the next round 91 percent of the time. Is this what the other nine percent looks like?

If there are words that would do justice to the low levels the Cavs sunk to in two games in Orlando this week, my college education didn’t get to them. Stink, stank and stunk work for now.

This first-round series with the Magic is now tied after the Magic took Game 4 at home by 23 points, for a two-game margin of victory of 61 points. Orlando’s 38-pointer in Game 3 Thursday stands as the most lopsided loss in playoff history for the Cavs, a dubious record that would have been in serious jeopardy Saturday had Cleveland not taken a nine-point lead into the locker room. The Cavs still haven’t shot the ball well this series; I think you’d agree, 4-of-17 from 3-point range on Saturday doesn’t cut it.

I have been covering the NBA for 10 consecutive years now; the first 4 1/2 I was exclusively following the Cavs and will be following them in these playoffs until they bow out. I can say the third quarter in Game 4 was the worst quarter I’ve seen from a good Cavs team, ever. More turnovers (six) than field goals (four). Gave up 37. Managed just 10, coughing up a lung and any remaining pride after Thursday’s beatdown.

Before J.B. Bickerstaff went with the punt team lineup, with about five minutes to go, the Magic’s bench outscored the Cavs’ reserves, 36-4. Not a misprint. The starters weren’t all that sweet, either, especially after halftime. Mitchell, for instance, failed to score in the second half after 18 first-half points. That’s unacceptable.

Taking a step back from the wreckage, we know no team has won a road game yet in this series, and no road team has played even close to well in any game. The Magic will have to show their myriad adjustments, first and foremost swapping out Jonathan Isaac for Wendell Carter Jr., have truly unlocked something the Cavs can’t handle — that what happened here at the Kia Center wasn’t just a case of home comfort.

If Orlando does just that on Tuesday, then, well, this is what the other 10 percent looks like. — Joe Vardon, NBA senior writer

Saturday’s NBA playoffs schedule

Thunder at Pelicans

  • 3:30 p.m. ET, TNT (OKC leads 2-0)

Celtics at Heat

  • 6 p.m. ET, TNT (Series tied 1-1)

Nuggets at Lakers

  • 8:30 p.m. ET, ABC (Denver lead 3-0)

Sunday’s NBA playoffs schedule

Required reading

(Photo: Nathan Ray Seebeck / USA T0day)

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