|An animated Dwight Howard is fired up after slamming home a dunk in overtime. The Magic center had 10 points in the extra session, several on spectacular drives to the basket. (Kevin Kolczynski/Reuters)|
Magic take command
Cavaliers come up empty in overtime
ORLANDO, Fla. - Superman swooped in just in time.
Dwight Howard scored 10 points in overtime and the Orlando Magic, raining down 3-pointers like a Florida thunderstorm, withstood 44 points and a last-second shot by LeBron James for a 116-114 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers last night to take a 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.
Howard finished with 27 points, 14 rebounds, and again made his free throws - 7 of 9 - for the resilient Magic, who made a team record 17 3-pointers - 11 after halftime.
Orlando can earn its first trip to the NBA Finals since 1995 with a win in Game 5 tomorrow night in Cleveland.
Rafer Alston added 26 points and Rashard Lewis and Mickael Pietrus had 17 each for the Magic.
James was spectacular again, adding 12 rebounds and seven assists, but he had eight turnovers for the Cavs, whose season of seasons is slipping away.
"I had to get myself going. My teammates found me in the right place to score and I kept scoring," Howard said of his overtime effort that included three dunks, a tip-in, and two free throws. "I hate losing, especially on my home floor. We kept fighting for the win."
After Lewis made one of two free throws with 3.2 seconds left to give the Magic the 116-114 lead, the Cavs had one final chance.
And every person inside Amway Arena and millions watching on TV knew who was going to get it - James.
The league MVP, who saved the Cavaliers with a 3-pointer at the final horn in Game 2, was double-teamed on the inbounds pass but still managed to get free. He came back and got the ball before dribbling into the frontcourt as Magic fans held their collective breath.
James then rose from 35 feet, and with a clean look at the basket, sent his shot toward the rim.
It fell short, and Cleveland's dream season may be next.
"He didn't look tired. He just nearly hit a 50-footer from halfcourt," Howard said of James, exaggerating the distance a bit. "I love playing against him."
Cleveland's Mo Williams, who guaranteed the Cavs would win Game 4 and the series, scored 18 points, none after the third quarter. Delonte West added 17 and Zydrunas Ilgauskas had 12 for the Cavaliers.
Following the game, Magic fans chanted "One more win."
History is on the Magic's side: Teams with a 3-1 lead are 182-8 in series dating to 1947.