Loudville? How about Slienceville.
Yes, the Cavaliers are human, and Wednesday night the team came tumbling down to earth as they fell in game one of their best of 7 series against the Orlando Magic, losing 107-106. The loss was stunner on a number of levels. The Cavs at one point had a 16-point lead, and were up 15 at the half after a Mo Williams 66-foot three-pointer at the buzzer.
They were up 103-102 with 40.8 seconds left after a Delonte West three-pointer, but Rashard Lewis hit a jump shot to make it 104-103 with 31.6 left, but LeBron James, who popped in 49, hit a jumper and was fouled by Dwight Howard to make it 105-104. He made the free throw to put the team up two with 25.6 left.
For the first time in a long time though, the Cavs defense let them down. Lewis answered the screaming sold out crowd with a huge three-pointer that put the Magic up one at 107-106 with 14.7 left. The last chance by the Cavaliers following their last time-out saw West miss a three-point shot, and the rebound ended up being called a jump ball with one second left.
James tipped the jump ball to Williams, but his off balance shot was off the the right, sending the home crowd home unhappy and flat out bewildered. It’s the first time since the teams loss to the Lakers back on February 8th that the team lost a home game that really meant anything.
While it was a setback, everyone pretty much knew that this was going to be a series much different than the first two. Orlando is no Detroit or Atlanta, and they played like it, even down early in the game and down 16. Howard played a great game, putting in 30 points. The Magic hit 9-of-20 for their three’s, and outrebounded the Cavs 36-33.
Lewis also was key, going for 22 points, and 3-for-4 from threes. Hedo Turkoglu scored 15 points, and the Magic bench outplayed the usually deep Cavs bench, as they were outscored 25-5. Overall Orlando ended up shooting 55 percent from the field, the Cavs 48 percent.
James was a man among men, as usual, but a late game cramp from playing 41 minutes hurt, and his 49 points will in the end be largely overshadowed by the Magic comeback. James was 20-for-30 from the field with 6-for-10 from the free throw line. He was also 3-for-6 from three-point range.
In the end, it was Orlando that was able to make the critical second half adjustments and give credit to Howard and his crew for not giving in when it would have been easy to fold down 16 and all the momentum on the Cavs side. Now it’s up to the Cavs to answer, and they will have that chance on Friday night at home at 8:30pm.