Cavaliers-Magic: Cleveland Still Alive After 112-102 Win Over Orlando

Genevieve WhitbourneCorrespondent IMay 29, 2009

CLEVELAND - MAY 28:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks on between plays against the Orlando Magic in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2009 Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena on May 28, 2009 in Cleveland, Ohio. 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 Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

TNT analyst Ernie Johnson summed up the first half of Game Five between the Orlando Magic and the Cleveland Cavaliers best when he said, “We’ve seen this movie before.”

The 22-point lead the Cavs jumped out to early in the game was so reminiscent of Games One and Two that it almost felt irrelevant. There was no doubt that the Magic would be able to overcome the large deficit, and Cavs fans in the stands looked more anxious than assured.

But there was one thing Cleveland could certainly feel good about—Williams, West, and Gibson were all making shots. If the Cavaliers were getting points out of more than just LeBron James, their chances of hanging on in Game Five vastly improved.

As the first quarter wore on, the early Cavaliers offensive onslaught began to wear out. A three from Pietrus, and slashing drives from Turkoglu and Johnson kick started the Magic offense. To open the second quarter, Orlando when on a 9-1 run to cut the lead to twelve, and the Magic just kept coming.

Turkoglu was able to make shots from the outside as well as by cutting to the rim. Lewis had an off night from thee point land, but he was able to drive to the basket and get foul calls.

The Orlando defense also tightened up, creating two straight turnovers for LeBron James. As the second quarter drew to a close, Howard slammed the ball into the hoop to cut the Cleveland lead to four.

By halftime, a layup and a three from Lewis had nearly evened the score with the Cavaliers ahead by only one point.

To open the second half, Orlando came out strong and built up an eight point lead.

But closing out a team in the NBA Playoffs is never easy, especially when that team is the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Anyone who has been watching the Magic-Cavaliers series awake knows that the game is not won in the first, or the second, or even the third quarter. Winning the fourth is what wins the game.

This considered it is no surprise what unfolded in this pivotal quarter.

Even though the Magic had the lead in the third quarter, there were looming problems. Dwight Howard already had his fourth personal foul and the shot makers for Orlando; Lewis, Alston, and Lee, could not get into any real rhythm. In fact, Alston, who had been such an offensive threat in Game Four finished with only three points.

The pressure for the Cavaliers to come out with a win in this game was enormous. If they lost, they would be eliminated from the Playoffs, and their strong regular season would have been tainted by an inability to show up and win when it mattered most.

Facing the possibility of a devastating loss, Cleveland coach Mike Brown decided to set up a new kind of game plan. Brown put King James at the top of the key and gave him free reign with the offense.  

This new strategy allowed James to play almost like an NFL Quarterback. His main job would be to distribute the ball. By putting James out there at the top of the key, he could draw defensive players who would try to defend him if LeBron decided to drive into the lane. This allowed James’ teammates to have open looks at the basket.

This new approach paid off for the Cavaliers as Williams, West, and Gibson were able to make their shots and provide much needed offensive production. All three would finish in double figures—with 24, 13, and 11, respectively.

On his way to a thirty-seven-point triple double, LeBron James took over the game management by assisting on 29 Cleveland points in the final minutes of the third and opening minutes of the fourth quarter.

With roughly two minutes left in the game the score was 102-96 in favor of the Cavaliers, and an Orlando Magic comeback did not seem impossible.

But in stifling a Magic comeback LeBron James would receive some more help, this time from the twenty thousand plus fans who had packed in to the Quicken Loans Arena. For the final minutes of the game the crowd was on their feet, waving towels wildly in the air, shaking signs, shouting at the top of their lungs, and willing their team to stay alive in the playoffs.

In the closing minutes of the game the Cavs were able to pull away, sealing a 112-102 victory and keeping their quest for the Finals alive.

But a high hurdle still awaits the Cavs in Orlando. While it would have been shocking if Cleveland had not been able to put together a must win at home, they still haven’t proven that they can beat the Magic in Orlando.

Now the pressure will be on the Magic to take advantage of home court as they try to finish off the Cavaliers in Game Six.  


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