Howard helps Magic grab series lead against Cavs

The Sports Network
5/25/2009 1:40:46 AM
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Orlando, FL (Sports Network) - Dwight Howard scored 24 points and hauled in nine rebounds to lead the Orlando Magic in a 99-89 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals.

The Magic bounced back from a crushing loss in Game 2 that saw LeBron James sink a game-winning three-pointer as time expired to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. Game 4 is scheduled for Tuesday in Orlando.

Rafer Alston added 18 points and Mickael Pietrus scored 16 for the Magic, who shot 42.9 percent from the field. Rashard Lewis tallied 15 points and Hedo Turkoglu finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.

James had 41 points, nine helpers and seven rebounds for the Cavs. It was the seventh 40-plus-point game of James' postseason career. Delonte West gave 12 points and Zydrunas Ilgauskas totaled nine points and nine boards.

Mo Williams, who briefly left the game in the second quarter after getting an elbow just below his left eye from Orlando's Anthony Johnson, had 15 points. Williams received four stitches and came back to the bench soon after.

Trailing by seven points late in the game, James drove the lane and was fouled by Howard before connecting on the three-point play to make it 90-86 with 2:34 left to play.

Howard was fouled by Ilgauskas on Orlando's next touch and hit both shots to make it a six-point affair.

"It was tough to get real good looks, it was a very physical game," said Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy. "It was a difficult game, I thought both teams fought extremely hard. It's never going to be easy in this series and when you reach this round it shouldn't be easy. So, a difficult game, a win we're glad to have."

Both teams wasted a couple of possessions and Pietrus was fouled going up for a layup by Ilgauskas and West was whistled for a technical with 1:08 showing on the clock. Lewis missed the free throw for the technical, but Pietrus hit the other two to make it 94-86.

"We have to do a better job of not fouling on the floor," said Cleveland head coach Mike Brown. "I though that, besides some of those fouls, our defense kept us in the game. I though our guys played hard, I thought they were tuned- in mentally and they gave us a chance."

Orlando's lead never dipped below five the rest of the way.

"They're a good team and they do cause matchup problems...and they're well- coached so you have to give them credit," said Brown.

Lewis' fadeaway capped a 16-6 run the Magic used to open the game. Orlando eventually was up 24-17 after the opening stanza. James' layup with 5:27 showing on the clock closed the books on a 17-5 burst the Cavs opened the second quarter with. The run gave the visitors a 34-29 advantage.

The score went back and forth from there, and Marcin Gortat's layup gave the Magic a 42-41 edge at the intermission. Four points from Howard and five from Courtney Lee opened a 56-48 Orlando lead with 7:50 left in the third period.

The teams traded baskets and the home team was up 68-63 heading to the fourth quarter. The deficit hovered around five points in the early stages of the fourth.

Game Notes: Ilgauskas, West and Williams combined to shoot 13-for-37 from the field...Cleveland shot 37.2 percent from the field...The Cavs won the battle on the boards, 42-40...The visitors shot 5-for-26 from three-point range. The Magic hit 6-of-17 from beyond the arc.

Dwight Howard  (Photo: The Canadian Press)


(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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