CLEVELAND — — Darius Garland had 25 points and 12 assists, leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 107-101 win over the Orlando Magic on Monday night after losing big man Evan Mobley to a sprained ankle left.
Mobley, the No. 3 overall pick, landed on Franz Wagner’s foot while defending under the basket in the second quarter. He limped to the locker room after briefly lying on the pitch and did not return.
The Cavaliers didn’t provide an update, but Kevin Love said Mobley “pretty badly rolled his ankle.” Mobley is averaging 14.9 points and 8.3 rebounds, putting him squarely in the Rookie of the Year race with Toronto’s Scottie Barnes and Detroit’s Cade Cunningham.
“It gutted us losing Evan, whether it was one game, two games, three games or whatever it was,” Love said. “We have to keep fighting and hope that he recovers quickly and can be there with us because he means so much to the team.”
Lauri Markkanen scored 20 points, Love had 19 points and seven rebounds, and Isaac Okoro added 11 points for the Cavaliers, who ended a three-game losing streak and remained seventh in the Eastern Conference with a record of 42-33.
Cleveland notched its first winning season in four years. It’s the first time the Cavaliers have finished above .500 without LeBron James on their roster since 1997-98.
“Mentally, I think it hit us a little bit, to see our rookie of the year go down like that,” Garland said. “We just had to pull ourselves together and that’s what we did. We started playing our style of basketball again and got a win.
Magic forward Wendell Carter Jr. had 15 points, 12 rebounds and six assists, Ignas Brazdeikis had 13 points, and Wagner had 10 points and six assists. Orlando has the worst record in the East at 20-56.
“That second unit with (Brazdeikis) gave us a big boost and really ran the stretch,” Magic coach Jamahl Mosley said. “Our starters were there to cheer on these guys because we have such a dynamic group, they’re all so supportive.”
Brazdeikis’ layup gave Orlando a 92-90 lead midway through the fourth, but Markkanen and Garland combined to score the next 12 points, putting Cleveland ahead for good. It was capped off with an alley-oop from Garland to Markkanen.
“Darius is a closer and he has the ability to make all the shots,” Cavaliers coach JB Bickerstaff said. “You look at the teams that are winning – and most of those games are in the fourth quarter – and they come close. Darius is at that level and it’s an elite level.
All-Star center Jarrett Allen (broken left middle finger) missed his 11th straight game for Cleveland. Point guard Rajon Rondo (sprained right ankle) hasn’t played since March 12, and shooter Collin Sexton (left knee surgery) is out for the season.
“We’ll play the guys who are here,” Bickerstaff said. “We’re going to ride with the guys we have.”
The Cavaliers have lost their two most important games of the season so far, 117-104 in Toronto and 98-94 in Chicago in three days. As a result, Cleveland slipped to seventh in the East and now trails both teams by one game. “It was the magnitude of the moment and the (limited) experience level of our guys,” Bickerstaff said. “It hurts. It hurts. But you have to go through it and you have to take pieces. Four of the Cavaliers’ last seven games have been on the road.
Magic: Mosley watched the Oscars with Bickerstaff at home. … Rookie Wagner, Detroit’s Saddiq Bey and Phoenix’s Mikal Bridges are the only NBA players to start every game this season. … Rookie G Jalen Suggs (right ankle bruise), the No. 5 overall pick, last played March 13 against Philadelphia. … C Bol Bol (right foot surgery) and C Jonathan Isaac (left knee rehabilitation) are out for the season.
Cavaliers: Mobley needs one point to become the eighth rookie in franchise history with 1,000 points. … F Dean Wade (torn right meniscus) will miss the remainder of the season after undergoing knee surgery. Wade, who made 28 starts, averaged 5.3 points in 51 games. … C Moses Brown’s second 10-day contract runs until March 30. … Cleveland took a 59-58 series lead with Orlando, which entered the NBA in 1989.
Magic: Visit the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night.
Cavaliers: Host the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night.