Turn out the lights Cleveland – the party is just about over.
In yet another epic Cleveland sports collapse, the Cavaliers find themselves now just one game away from having what was a magical (no pun attended) season totally wiped away by an Orlando Magic team that simply is a bad match-up, and a team that simply seems to want it just a bit more.
Tuesday night in Orlando, the Cavs did play their hearts out, but in the end in overtime, “Superman” Dwight Howard was just too much, as he slammed in 10 points of the Magic’s 16, as they beat the Cavs yet again -116-114.
The loss for the Cavs now means they have to beat Orlando three straight times, and while two of the three games would be in Cleveland, it’s hard to actually think that the Cavs at this point are going to be able to extend the series even to a sixth game in Orlando on Saturday. If it were not for LeBron James’ miracle three at the buzzer Friday, the Cavs very well may already be making their summer vacation plans.
For now, they do have some life left in them, but you can bet it’s going to take one heck of a miracle to pull it off. Tuesday the team played their best game of the series, but even that was not enough to stop Orlando. The Cavs led 25-21 after the first 12 minutes, then got a big three in the final second of the second quarter from Daniel Gibson to lead 58-50 at the half.
Once again though, Mike Brown and the team fell apart in the third quarter, as the Magic started getting their legs under them, and started hitting threes. And more threes, and more threes, and more threes. They pulled within one at the end of three, and then held a lead midway through the fourth quarter till the Cavs rallied.
A James free throw with 1:05 to play gave the Cavs a 98-97 lead. After a Magic missed three, James missed a jumper with21.9 seconds left to give Orlando one last shot. With 4.1 seconds left, RashardLewis nailed a three to give Orlando a 100-98 lead. Mo Williams inbounded the ball to James, and he drove the lane and got fouled with :0.5 seconds left.
The first free throw was nothing but net, but the second one hung on for a second before finally falling in to tie the game at 100. To overtime we went. The Cavs came out aggressive, as after an Orlando turnover, Gibson got to the line to hit a pair of free throws to make it 102-100. Then it was time for the Dwight Howard show.
While the Cavsand James were turning the ball over and making bad decisions, the Magic just kept going to Howard, who made three dunks to make it 106-105 Magic with2:47 to go. An Orlando three made it 109-105 with2:11 left, and then a Howard tip-in made it 111-105 with 1:12 to go.
The teams went back and forth, but the Cavs playing desperate could never get it back to even, as James made a layup, two free throws, and a wild three with:04.1 left to make it 115-114. Lewis made a free throw to make it 116-114 with :03.2 left, and a James half court shot at the buzzer was not really close.
So now the team comes home, complete with two losses, and void of any confidence, no matter what Williams or James may say at this point. They have little to no shot to make the Finals, and the sting of this playoff collapse is almost complete