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 James' buzzer-beater lifts Cavaliers over Magic

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PostSubject: James'' buzzer-beater lifts Cavaliers over Magic   Sun May 24, 2009 6:59 pm

CLEVELAND(AP) Michael Jordan no longer has the most famous buzzer-beater in Cleveland sports history.The Shot has been topped.LeBron James made one better.James
dropped a 3-pointer from the top of the key over Orlando's Hedo
Turkoglu as the final horn sounded Friday night to give the Cavaliers,
their season a heartbeat from major trouble, a 96-95 victory over the
Magic that evened the Eastern Conference finals at one game apiece.From
23 feet - matching his jersey number and Jordan's - James hit a shot
that will go down as one of the defining moments in a career that's
just hitting its stride."That guy is not in the league any more,'' James said of Jordan. "The other 23 is on the good side now.''Taking
the inbounds pass from Mo Williams, James only had time to turn his
shoulders toward the rim and fire. As the high-arcing shot dropped
through, James sprinted into the arms of his delirious teammates as
20,562 stunned fans hugged in disbelief."You couldn't hear
anything but a roar,'' James said. "Those fans deserved it. That was
the biggest shot I've made in my career. A second is a long time for
me, for others it's very short. As a kid you practice those moments.''In
the past, this was the kind of shot that happened against the Cavs.
Jordan's jumper in 1989 over Craig Ehlo eliminated Cleveland from the
playoffs - a punch-in-the-stomach moment burned into the psyche of
every Cleveland fan.Well, James is changing everything around here.Game
3 is Sunday night in Orlando, where the Magic beat the Cavaliers twice
this season and thumped them by 29 points on April 3.One second
before James' shot, Turkoglu hit a 12-footer in the lane to give the
Magic, who overcame a 23-point deficit in the first half, a 95-93 lead.
Cleveland called a timeout and set up a play for James, the league's
MVP who finished with 35 points.James darted toward the basket
to create some room on Turkoglu and then cut back near the top of the
circle before letting loose with the biggest shot in his 24 years.
After seeing James' only 3-pointer of the game fall, Williams dropped
to his knees and pounded the floor with his right hand as Quicken Loans
Arena shook to its core."I was punch drunk,'' Williams said. "I was stuck. I couldn't move.''Officials looked at the replay to make sure it should count.There was no doubt."We
just couldn't afford to go down 0-2,'' James said. "That's just a great
shot. Now we have to get ready for Game 3. There's a lot to clean up.''Rashard
Lewis scored 23 points and Turkoglu had 21 for the Magic, who have now
lost four games at the buzzer in these playoffs. Dwight Howard scored
10 - 20 below his Game 1 performance - and added 18 rebounds.Williams had 19 points - on 7-of-21 shooting - and Zydrunas Ilguaskas had 12 points and 15 rebounds for Cleveland.Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy was upset with his decision to guard James on the last play."That
one obviously hurts quite a bit,'' he said. "I'd like to have that last
one back from a coaching standpoint,'' he said. "I should have defended
it differently. It's crushing enough to lose as a coach, but when you
feel like you're the guy who could've made the difference, it hurts a
lot more."I just want to win and we should have won.''Like
the hand powder James famously blows above his head before every game,
Cleveland's season was on the verge of disappearing into thin air.Their
offense out of whack and their defense not up to its usual standards,
the Cavaliers let the Magic overcome a huge deficit for the second
straight game.Turkoglu's 3-pointer with 48.7 seconds left had
tied it 93-93, and the Cavs appeared to take the lead on James'
left-handed layup over Howard. But he was called for traveling, one of
several calls that could have gone either way in a second half filled
with whistles."That walk - great call by the refs,'' James said, "glad I had a chance to redeem myself.''Turkoglu's
shot over Sasha Pavlovic, who gave the Cavs a lift off the bench with
nine points, had Cleveland fans reliving all those moments of sports
heartbreak - Jordan's Shot, John Elway's Drive, The Fumble - that have
led to the city's 45-year championship drought.James, though,
the kid from down the Interstate in nearby Akron, restored their
confidence that this might finally be Cleveland's season."An
amazing player,'' Cavs coach Mike Brown said. "To have the wherewithal
to have that type of confidence in yourself, to know there's one second
on the clock and you're ending this thing right now ... not many people
could do it. An amazing shot by an amazing player. That's what great
players do.''Down by 23 in the second quarter the Magic, who won the opener by one point, were within 12 at halftime.By
the end of the third they had cut it to six, and when Lewis backed down
Delonte West and scored on a short jumper with 6:12 left, Orlando had
tied it at 84-all.For a few seconds, it looked as if Turkoglu
would be the hero and the Magic would be halfway to their first
appearance in the finals since 1995.James wouldn't allow it."I'm
shocked anybody would make that shot,'' Howard said. "Everybody is
watching. I know I won't be able to sleep and the rest of my teammates
won't be able to sleep. We've got to get over it.''Notes: In the
playoffs, James is averaging 34.7 points on 55 percent shooting. ...
Howard has had a double-double in all 15 postseason games. ... The
officials missed what should have been a technical foul on Williams in
the first quarter for throwing the ball at Howard's back. ... An
elderly man was taken for medical treatment after Williams crashed into
him while chasing a loose ball. As the fan was being transported from
the floor in a wheelchair, Williams came over and put his arm around
him. The man was back in his seat after halftime.

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