Howard, Magic survive James' monster game, down CavaliersNov 15, 2007 - 5:28 AM CLEVELAND (Ticker) -- In a game that featured two of the elite players in the NBA, perhaps it is only appropriate the Orlando Magic won because of free-throw shooting and defense.
Dwight Howard had 35 points and 16 rebounds and Jameer Nelson added 21 and 11 assists to lead the Magic past the Cleveland Cavaliers, 117-116, in overtime on Wednesday.
On the surface, a matchup between Howard and Cavaliers superstar LeBron James would have been enough to make this game plenty appealing. However, it was late foul shooting and defense by the Magic that pushed the Cavaliers to their second straight loss.
"That was a great basketball game, especially for this early in the season," Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said. "Both teams went at it and nobody backed down."
James had 39 points, 13 rebounds and 14 assists for his second triple-double of the season - and the 14th for his career, including the postseason. He also had one exactly a week ago in a 103-101 loss to the Utah Jazz.
"It hurts more to see (LeBron's) numbers at the end of the game and to see Z's (Zydrunas Ilgauskas) numbers (18 points, 11 boards) and to not get a win," Cleveland forward Drew Gooden said.
But despite James' dazzling effort, his team would come up short in this one.
Orlando only needed to hit its free throws down the stretch to ice the game in regulation but Keith Bogans - who entered the game shooting 92 percent from the line - missed both of his free throws with 16 seconds remaining and Howard missed one of two with five seconds left - leaving it a one-possession game with the Magic leading, 108-105.
After using a timeout to advance the ball to half court, the Cavaliers inbounded the ball to James. Hedo Turkoglu, who was trying to foul James before he could turn and shoot to limit Cleveland to two free throws, slapped at the ball too late as James already had alertly started his shooting motion.
James, who has seen his free-throw percentage drop in each of his five seasons in the NBA and entered the game shooting just 63 percent from the foul line, calmly knocked down all three free throws to send the contest into overtime at 108-108.
"I have confidence in myself to do things like that, I don't feel pressure," James said. "It doesn't matter what I do as an individual if we don't win. That is all that matters to me."
Both teams exchanged scores throughout the extra period before James hit a jumper to push Cleveland ahead, 116-115, with 17 seconds remaining in overtime.
After Orlando used a timeout and Daniel Gibson was fouled, the Magic found Howard in the paint and he drew a foul on Gooden. Almost to vindicate his miss in regulation, Howard calmly sank both free throws to give Orlando a 117-116 advantage with five seconds left.
"I didn't think Coach was going to call my number," Howard said. "But I was ready if he did, and I'm glad I made the free throws. I thought he was going to call it for Rashard (Lewis), Hedo or Jameer for a shot, but he made a post-up call, and I thought, 'OK. It's my chance to redeem myself.'"
Cleveland used a 20-second timeout to once again set up a potential game-winning play for James. However, this time Turkoglu came off his man while James was driving and forced a held ball with two-tenths of a second remaining.
"I was in the right place at the right time, and didn't foul this time," said Turkoglu about the jump ball. Van Gundy had no doubt about the jump-ball call.
"I didn't see anything but Turk grab the ball," Van Gundy said. James, of course, saw it differently.
"I went into the lane and I got grabbed," James said. "He had some of the ball, but he had part of my arm as well." The Cavaliers were unable to get off a shot on the subsequent jump ball.
"The way we ended regulation, a lot of teams would have given up, and overtime would have been a blowout," Howard said. "But we stuck with our game plan."
Gooden had 23 points and 12 rebounds for Cleveland, which has trailed at the end of three quarters in each of its nine games this season.
CLEVELAND 116 FINAL IN 1ST OT
Nov 14 9:54 PM
END OF REG 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
--- --- --- --- -----
ORLANDO 28 27 26 27 108
CLEVELAND 29 27 23 29 108 END OF REG
NBA ORLANDO AT CLEVELAND
HIGH SCORERS AFTER 4TH QUARTER
ORL - DWIGHT HOWARD 31, RASHARD LEWIS 20,
JAMEER NELSON 19
CLE - LEBRON JAMES 35, DREW GOODEN 21,
ZYDRUNAS ILGAUSKAS 18
Nov 14 9:35 PM
CLEVELAND 79 END, 3RD QTR
Nov 14 8:52 PM
CLEVELAND 56 HALFTIME
Nov 14 8:08 PM
CLEVELAND 29 END, 1ST QTR
Nov 14 7:36 PM
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