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Hughes, James lead Cavaliers past Magic

Feb 12, 2008 - 4:24 AM ORLANDO, Florida (Ticker) -- Tired, shorthanded and embarrassed, the Cleveland Cavaliers made a statement on Monday.

One night after suffering one of the worst losses in LeBron James' career, Larry Hughes scored 33 of his 40 points in the second half to help the Cavaliers rebound for a 118-111 triumph over the Orlando Magic.

James added 29 points, seven rebounds and 10 assists for Cleveland, which was once again without guards Daniel Gibson and Damon Jones and forwards Anderson Varejao and Sasha Pavlovic due to injury.

The Cavaliers did not arrive in Orlando until early Monday afternoon after their flight was delayed following Sunday's 113-83 loss to the Denver Nuggets. The delay forced James to miss his customary afternoon nap for the first time in his career.

"We could have made all the excuses of not landing until 1:30 pm or not getting to hotel until 2:15 this afternoon," James said. But as professionals we have to continue playing. To come in here and beat a really good team is impressive for our ball club."

The All-Star swingman, who sat down after the third quarter in Sunday's blowout loss and refused to even join the team huddles, did not show any ill effects from the lack of sleep - coming out strong with 13 points in the first half, including an emphatic dunk off Hughes' assist early in the first quarter.

With Cleveland trailing, 55-52, at the break, Hughes went to work in the third quarter. His deep 3-pointer 24 seconds into the period forged a 55-55 tie, and his 18 points over the final 4:24 of the period helped the Cavs stay tied at 86-86 after three.

"We did a great job of executing and feeding the hot hand which was Larry (Hughes)", James said. "Larry is one of the most rhythm guys in the league. When he has that rhythm I have to continue to notice that. I noticed that tonight and every play was called for him in the second half ... Every single play."

Hughes capped a 12-2 run to begin the fourth quarter with a jumper, giving Cleveland a 98-88 edge with 8:12 left in the game. He and James combined for 16 points over the final 5:05 to seal the win.

"I felt comfortable and was able to get to the free throw line", said Hughes, who connected on 12-of-13 from the line. "When you get free throws and layups, it makes the jump shots easier. I was able to get nice looks and get into rhythm."

"Larry (Hughes) really stepped up and had a tremendous game", Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "Someone told me he had 23 points in the third quarter. I knew he was scoring a lot of points but I didn't know he had 23 in the third. His production obviously was huge for us."

The Cavaliers shot 54 percent(38-of-71) in the victory, including 9-of-14 from the arc. The team also benefited from the return of forward Drew Gooden, who scored 10 points on 5-of-8 shooting after missing three games with a groin injury.

Hedo Turkoglu scored 25 points to lead the Magic, who shot just 40 percent (19-of-47) in the second half en route to their third loss in their last four home games.

Jameer Nelson added 22 points and Dwight Howard scored 16 and grabbed nine rebounds as Orlando fell to just 13-11 on this season at the Amway Arena.

"We've got to play harder," said Howard, who has failed to record double-digit rebounds in five of the last six games and has now fallen behind Marcus Camby for the league lead in rebounding. "Cleveland wanted it a little more than we did. We can't have nights like this at home."

"That was one of the most disappointing games, if not the most disappointing," said a visibly upset Magic coach Stan Van Gundy after the game. "We started the fourth quarter even and then they opened up a little bit of a lead and our guys just really hung their heads. I thought they quit competing. That was very, very disappointing because we didn't fight for that game at all. I'm very disappointed and discouraged by that."

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