Game Five of the Magic-Cavaliers Eastern Conference Finals series played to script until the fourth quarter. Cleveland, facing elimination and the end of the best season in franchise history, needed to win or go home.
They started off fast, building a lead that got as high as 22 points in the first quarter. The biggest part of the fast start was the great play of point guard Mo Williams, who started the game by hitting his first four shots and scored 24 points in total. Williams' jump out of the gate took pressure off LeBron James.
But then, down by 17 points after one quarter, the Magic began to claw back into the game. Surprisingly enough, it was not by hitting three pointers that they climbed into it, but by getting turnovers, playing tough defense, and rebounding the ball.
On the offensive end of the court, the Magic drove the ball to the basket, got several shots to fall, and sometimes picked up free throws afterwards. Before the end of the first half, Orlando had cut the Cleveland lead to one point.
In the third quarter, the Magic completed the comeback and were able to build a small lead at one point. But they couldn't keep it, mainly because their three-point shots would not fall as they did in the first four games of this series. Orlando shot 32 percent from the arc for the contest, their worst mark in the ECF.
The Magic were able to take a two-point lead going into the final quarter, but their downfall ended up being their thirteen missed foul shots; they only shot 68 percent from the foul line.
The fourth quarter belonged to LeBron James, who willed his team to win the ball game. In the last 12 minutes, LeBron either scored or assisted on 29 points. James had one of this best playoff games ever and his fourth career postseason triple-double with 37 points, 14 rebounds, and 12 assists.
Late in the final period, LeBron drove the ball to the basket and got Dwight Howard (who had a double-double of 24 points and 10 rebounds) to foul out. Without Howard in the game, Hedo Turkoglu was not able to run the high screen-and-roll, which had been killing Cleveland the whole series.
The Cavaliers shot 50 percent from the field and three line. Zydrunas Ilgauskas scored 16 points and Delonte West had 13. On the other side, with the three-point shots not falling and seemingly never-ending misses from the charity stripe, scoring was hard for the Magic.
Turkoglu did all he could to keep Orlando in the game, scoring 29 points, but he couldn't kick the ball out for open shots by this teammates. Most notability, Rashard Lewis went 1-for-5 from beyond the arc and only had 15 points in the game. Also, Rafer Alston was 1-for-10 from the field and only had three points for the game.
The Cavaliers bench still got outscored by the Orlando reserves, but they did play better, with Daniel Gibson getting 11 points. For the Magic, Mickael Pietrus continued his good series with 13 points off the pine.
In the end, the night belonged to James, who carried his team to a 102-92 win over the Orlando Magic. With LeBron playing this way, it will be hard for the Magic to finish off the Cavaliers, but the series does shift back to Orlando for Game Six on Saturday. The Magic will try to close this series out so it does not head back to Cleveland for a pressurized Game Seven.