The Cleveland Cavaliers set a club record with their 20th consecutive loss, falling 103-87 to the Orlando Magic on Sunday and moving within four defeats of setting a dubious NBA record.
The Cavaliers, the team that NBA Most Valuable Player LeBron James jilted last July to join the Miami Heat, fell to a league-worst 8-39 with their 30th loss in their past 31 games.
Cleveland edged closer to the NBA’s all-time one-season record losing streak of 23 games, set by the 1995-1996 Vancouver Grizzlies and matched two seasons later by the Denver Nuggets.
The Cavaliers surpassed the one-season club losing streak set by Cleveland’s 1981-1982 squad, which dropped its final 19 games of the season.
Cleveland also lost the first five games of the 1982-1983 campaign to set an NBA multi-season losing streak record of 24 in a row, an all-time mark also well within reach.
The Cavaliers have not won since defeating the New York Knicks 109-102 in overtime on Dec. 18.
“We can ill afford to have any kind of mental lapses like we’ve been having,” Cavaliers forward Antawn Jamison said. “We’re playing with a lot of effort, but we’re also learning a lot on the go as well. Still, you have to go out there and play.”
Ryan Anderson scored a game-high 23 points and grabbed 16 rebounds for Orlando, who also had 20 points and 20 rebounds from Dwight Howard and 17 from J.J. Redick. Manny Harris led the Cavaliers with 20 points.
The Magic seized a 33-17 lead after the first quarter and traded points through the final three quarters, before winning by the same 16-point margin.
“The first quarter was killer,” Cavaliers coach Byron Scott said. “We can’t allow ourselves to get down by 16 or 17 points and then expect to try to come back.”
“We’ve just got to figure out a way to stay closer the first half of the game and hopefully we can make a run the second half,” he said.
CELTICS 109, LAKERS 96
In Los Angeles, Paul Pierce scored 32 points, while Kevin Garnett had 18 points and 13 rebounds with a large bandage over a cut on his head as the Boston Celtics won their NBA finals rematch with the Los Angeles Lakers, overcoming Kobe Bryant’s 41 points in a 109-96 victory.
Ray Allen scored 21 points for the Celtics in the longtime rivals’ first meeting since Los Angeles rallied from a late 13-point deficit for an 83-79 win in Game 7 last June.
Pau Gasol had 12 points in a quiet game for Los Angeles, who have lost four of seven.
HEAT 108, THUNDER 103
In Oklahoma City, Dwyane Wade scored 32 points and Eddie House hit the go-ahead three-pointer with 22.2 seconds left as Miami got their “Big 3” back together to beat Oklahoma City.
LeBron James added 23 points and 13 rebounds and Chris Bosh scored 20 points in his first game back after a four-game absence as the Heat snapped Oklahoma City’s home winning streak at six.
Kevin Durant scored 33 points, but missed a contested jumper along the left baseline that would’ve tied it. Jeff Green had 23 points and 11 rebounds, while Russell Westbrook added 21 points and 10 assists.
SUNS 104, HORNETS 102
In Phoenix, Arizona, Marcin Gortat scored a career-high 25 points as Phoenix beat a team with a winning record for the fourth straight time, surviving New Orleans’ frantic late rally
The Suns nearly blew an eight-point lead in the final 18 seconds, but Grant Hill blocked Marcus Thornton’s inside attempt with 3.9 seconds left and Hornets guard Chris Paul’s desperation three-point attempt missed the rim as time expired. Paul led New Orleans with 26 points.