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Magic Romp Over Cavs in Sloppy Game

May 24, 2009 – 11:59 PM
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Tim Povtak

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Dwight Howard didn't win this one with his thunderous dunks, or his natural shot-blocking ability, two skills in which he led the NBA this season.

He won it with his free-throw shooting.

Seriously. No kidding.

The Magic took a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference final Sunday night with a 99-89 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, riding the free-throw shooting – yes, free-throw shooting -- of Howard.

Howard, who shot just 59 percent from the line this season, hit 14 of 19 free throws, including eight of 10 in the fourth quarter to preserve a lead the Magic held throughout the second half.


LeBron James, who has dominated the series, had a game-high 41 points, but he made just seven of 12 free throws in the fourth when the Cavs pulled to within four points.

There was nothing pretty about the game, which turned into a slowed-to-a-crawl, free-throw shooting contest, which made it last forever. The Magic made 39 of 51 free throws. The Cavs made 26 of 35.

"It was a physical contest. Both teams were physical,'' said Cavs coach Mike Brown. "There were times when we fouled up the floor. It will be interesting to see how they call the game. That's a lot of free throws in a 48-minute game.''

Howard was in foul trouble early, playing only 28 minutes, but he still managed to dominate when he played.

The biggest surprise was that James -- the best and most entertaining player in basketball -- was on the receiving end of two blocked shots, done by less-than-star-caliber players.

Magic backup center Marcin Gortat made his NBA poster late in the first quarter when he stuffed a layup attempt by James, bringing the crowd to its feet and a smile to every face on the Magic sideline.

Mickael Pietrus did the same to James late, blocking his dunk attempt in the closing minutes. James found himself on another Magic poster when he tried one of his come-from-behind blocks on a breakaway by Courtney Lee. The Magic rookie saw him coming, though, and dunked over his outstretched hand.

Hedo Turkoglu, almost the hero in Game 2, struggled badly throughout the night, missing his first eight field goal attempts before he made No. 9 with just under four minutes remaining.

The Magic remembered to set their alarm clocks this time, something they forgot to do in Cleveland when they started meekly and fell behind quickly in both Games 1 and 2. Point guard Rafer Alston made five of six shots in those first 12 minutes, sparking the better start they had promised earlier in the day.

Latest NBA Playoff Photos

    Orlando Magic's head coach Stan Van Gundy directs his team's play in the fourth quarter of Game 3 of their Eastern Conference finals NBA basketball playoff series against Cleveland Cavaliers in Orlando, Florida May 24, 2009. REUTERS/Scott Audette (UNITED STATES SPORT BASKETBALL)

    Reuters

    ORLANDO, FL - MAY 24: Mike Brown, Head Coach of the Cleveland Cavalier, communicates with the team while playing against the Orlando Magic in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at the the Amway Arena on May 24, 2009 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Mike Brown

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    ORLANDO, FL - MAY 24: Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic shoots against Zyrunas Ilgauska #11 of the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at the the Amway Arena on May 24, 2009 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Dwight Howard;Zydrunas Ilgauskas

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    ORLANDO, FL - MAY 24: Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic shoots against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at the the Amway Arena on May 24, 2009 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Dwight Howard

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    ORLANDO, FL - MAY 24: Stan Van Gundy, Head Coach of the Orlando Magic, reacts during the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at the the Amway Arena on May 24, 2009 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Stan Van Gundy

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    ORLANDO, FL - MAY 24: Mo Williams #2 of the Cleveland Cavaliers drives against Marcin Gortat #13 of the Orlando Magic in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at the the Amway Arena on May 24, 2009 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Mo Williams;Marcin Gortat

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    ORLANDO, FL - MAY 24: Golfer Tiger Woods smiles as he watches the Cleveland Cavaliers play against the Orlando Magic in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at the the Amway Arena on May 24, 2009 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Tiger Woods

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    ORLANDO, FL - MAY 24: Joe Smith #32 of the Cleveland Cavaliers celebrates during the game against the Orlando Magic in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at the the Amway Arena on May 24, 2009 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Joe Smith

    Getty Images

    ORLANDO, FL - MAY 24: Joe Smith #32 of the Cleveland Cavaliers smiles during the game against the Orlando Magic in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at the the Amway Arena on May 24, 2009 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Joe Smith

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    ORLANDO, FL - MAY 24: Hedo Turkoglu #15 of the Orlando Magic drives against Joe Smith #32 of the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at the the Amway Arena on May 24, 2009 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Hedo Turkoglu;Joe Smith

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