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 Magic throttle Cavaliers, James 116-87

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Join date : 2008-11-21

PostSubject: Magic throttle Cavaliers, James 116-87   Sat Apr 04, 2009 8:31 pm

ORLANDO, Fla.(AP) Never in LeBron James' entire basketball life could he recall being down by more than 40 points.Not in the NBA. Not in high school. Not even playing pickup basketball as a kid.The Orlando Magic gave him a first.Dwight
Howard had 20 points and 11 rebounds, and the Magic rode a strong
second-half start to go ahead by 41 points and hand the Cleveland
Cavaliers their most lopsided loss of the season with a 116-87 blowout
Friday night."It's embarrassing,'' James said.Rashard
Lewis had 22 points and Hedo Turkoglu scored 13 for the Magic, who
remained percentage points behind Boston - but tied in the loss column
- for the Eastern Conference's second seed.James finished with
26 points and nine rebounds but never did find his rhythm, shooting
7-for-20 from the floor. James stayed in for part of the fourth quarter
to help Cleveland dodge its worst loss since he was drafted in 2003.
Only Daniel Gibson's 3-pointer in the waning seconds saved Cleveland
from that fate.Cleveland's 35-point defeat at Detroit on Nov.
11, 2007, was the most lopsided in the LeBron Era, and a 17-point loss
against the Lakers in January had been the Cavs' worst this season. It
was a shocking loss for a team with the NBA's best record, which lost
consecutive games for only the second time this season."It's not
about how many games you lose, it's about how you lose them,'' James
said. "The last two games weren't how we play the game of basketball.''And the Magic made Cleveland look foolish.Lewis
made consecutive 3-pointers to cap a 19-2 start to the second half, a
flurry of swishes and Howard dunks that simply overwhelmed Cleveland.Howard
called a players-only meeting Thursday night after a humbling home loss
to Toronto that bounced the Magic from the East's second seed. Players
let out their frustrations, Howard said, and the venting let everyone
refocus on the team's championship goals and again look like a serious
contender."We had a great meeting,'' Howard said. "We thought it
was going to be like a five-minute meeting, but it ended up being like
20 minutes. Everybody said what they needed to say, it was just
something that we needed.''Howard had a crushing block on a
layup attempt by James that brought the home fans to their feet in one
seemingly collective "ooh.'' Howard smiled down court, and an obviously
throttled James tried to return the favor but was called for
goaltending on Howard's hook shot.It got worse for Cleveland - much worse.A
series of alley-oops, dunks and wide-open 3-pointers all seemed to
connect for Orlando. And when Courtney Lee finally missed a jumper for
the Magic during the spurt, Howard cleaned it up with a monstrous
put-back dunk that began the chants of "M-V-P!'' every time he shot
free throws.Things got so bad that even central Florida resident
and the Magic's most famous fan, Tiger Woods, left his courtside seat
at the end of the third quarter and never returned. The Cavaliers had
no answer, and Magic coach Stan Van Gundy began to sit his starters
before the fourth quarter."We did not have a guy who didn't play well tonight, not a guy,'' Van Gundy said.Everything seemed to go Orlando's way.Anthony
Johnson banked a 3-pointer high off the glass from near the baseline to
cap a 15-4 spurt that gave Orlando a 46-30 lead with about three
minutes to play in the first half. The Magic went ahead by 17 points at
the break."They kicked our behinds starting with Stan Van
Gundy,'' Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "He and his staff did a nice
job. They outworked myself and my staff, and their players outworked
our players. From top to bottom, we got our behinds kicked.''With
Howard on the bench, reserve centers Tony Battie and Marcin Gortat
combined for 10 points during Orlando's second-quarter run. Gortat even
hit a rare 3-pointer in the waning seconds of the game, and he walked
out of Orlando's locker room after the game holding the box score
laughing."I have to frame this,'' Gortat joked.The duo
not only allowed Howard to take a few extra minutes rest, they grabbed
key rebounds, were active on defense to help hold the Cavaliers to 31.8
percent shooting in the half and even contested some of James'
hard-driving layups that kept him frustrated.That would be a theme throughout.Showing
emotion rarely seen in the regular season, James was called for a
technical foul in the first quarter after he was whistled for reaching
in on a layup attempt by Turkoglu. James would have more reason to get
riled up.Rafer Alston reached back to his streetballing days
when he was known as "Skip to My Lou'' on New York's hard courts with a
nifty behind the back dribble, then spinning past James and finishing
with a layup. The play was part of a 12-4 run that put the Magic ahead
25-18 late in the first quarter.Notes: Two of the biggest
athletes in sports shook hands before the game, with Woods and James
embracing courtside. Woods, a central Florida resident who often
attends Magic home games, was sitting across from Cleveland's bench
with world-renowned golf instructor Hank Haney. "Any time Tiger's in
attendance it must be a big game,'' James said before the game, adding
that he hasn't seen Woods play in person but would love to in the
future. ... James was named Eastern Conference Player of the Month for
March on Friday for the 10th time in his career and the third time this
season. He was joined by Brown, who earned the East's Coach of the
Month honors to also claim that honor for the third time this season.

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