Orlando, FL (Sports Network) - The Orlando Magic moved one victory from their second trip to the NBA Finals, this time surviving a miss from league MVP LeBron James at the final buzzer in overtime.
Dwight Howard scored 10 of his 27 points in the extra session, pulled down 14 rebounds and the Magic held on for a 116-114 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals.
"I think as a team we want it more than any other year that I have been here," said Howard. "I have been talking about winning a championship since I have been here. But I think this is the first year that everybody is locked in on our goal."
James totaled 44 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists, but also accounted for eight of Cleveland's 14 turnovers. Mo Williams, who guaranteed Cleveland would win Game 4 and the series, scored 18 and Delonte West chipped in 17 in defeat.
"Our backs are against the wall," said Williams. "We are going to have a lay it all out on the line type of attitude and game. We will be competitive and go down with a fight. We feel like the series is not over."
James, who won Game 2 with a miraculous long-distance shot at the buzzer, had a chance to repeat the feat, but he came up empty at the end. He hit a quick three-pointer with 4.1 seconds remaining, pulling the Cavs within 115-114, but Rashard Lewis was then fouled with 3.2 seconds left and missed the first foul shot before sinking the second.
James received the ensuing inbounds pass in the backcourt, dribbled to the left side and launched a long three-pointer that missed to the left of the basket.
"I always feel like I can make any shot that I take," said James. "As it traveled, it didn't look good. It felt good leaving my hand but didn't look good in the air. Those are the breaks we have gotten this series. It just didn't go."
It was the third game of the series decided on the final possession, and this time the Magic, thanks in part to 17 made three-pointers, moved to a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. Orlando can advance to the title series with a win in Game 5, which is slated for Thursday in Cleveland.
"We can't be satisfied about winning this game," said Lewis. "It is a good win for us. We're up 3-1, but you can't relax. Anything can happen. We've got to go to Cleveland looking to try to close these guys out."
Rafer Alston added a career playoff-high 26 points and hit a clutch three- pointer near the end of regulation for the Magic, who were swept by Houston in their lone trip to the league finals in 1995. Lewis scored 17, while Hedo Turkoglu ended with 15 points, seven boards and eight assists. Mickael Pietrus netted 17 for Orlando, which went 17-of-38 from beyond the arc.
Despite another powerful performance, Howard did receive his sixth technical foul of the playoffs. Once a player reaches seven technicals in the postseason, he faces an automatic one-game suspension.
The waning seconds of regulation into the overtime period were tenuous.
James made 1-of-2 free throws to give the Cavs a 98-97 edge with 1:05 left in the fourth quarter, but each team failed on ensuing possessions with Turkoglu missing a shot followed by James not connecting on a long-range jumper. Pietrus failed on a three-point try from the right corner, and West, diving for the loose ball, knocked it out of bounds with 6.4 seconds remaining.
Out of a timeout, Lewis, who hit the winning shot of Game 1, drained a three- ball from the left corner with 4.1 seconds left, escaping the defense of Ben Wallace.
"I really didn't know who to screen," said Howard. "Usually they switch the four and five pick-and-roll towards the end of the game. And I think Ben had a head start, so I tried to hit him before he got a chance to close out to Rashard. And then Rashard just hit the shot."
But James had his chance to capitalized to tie the game with 0.5 ticks remaining. He drove to the lane before losing his footing, but made contact with Pietrus. James easily sank the first attempt, and the second caromed off the back of the rim and then hung on the front for a split second before falling through.
After a timeout, the Magic went for a lob play, but Howard and Cleveland's Anderson Varejao were tied up near the basket and fell to the floor in a heap as time expired.
A layup by Howard and a three-ball from Pietrus opened a 109-105 Magic lead in OT, and after a James turnover, Howard's tip-in provided a six-point lead with 1:12 left.
The Cavs, though, weren't done and nearly pulled out the victory, even after Lewis' two free throws made it 115-111 with 6.4 seconds remaining.
Cleveland gained a 25-21 lead after the first quarter, with Wallace's jam providing the four-point margin after 12 minutes.
Marcin Gortat's dunk opened a 43-35 Magic lead with under five minutes left in the half, but the Cavs surged for the next 12 points with a Zydrunas Ilgauskas jumper capping the spurt.
Daniel Gibson drained two shots from beyond the arc down the stretch, helping the Cavs to a 58-50 lead at the break.
The game tightened in the latter stage of the third quarter with Howard picking up a technical with 4:11 remaining for taunting Varejao after making a layup.
"I was playing with emotion," said Howard. "You get in the game and you score a big bucket, you let your emotions take over. I wasn't tonguing Varejao or anything. My thing, it was a tough play. He grabbed me around my neck and made the shot. So hopefully they look at it."
Howard admitted he may need to find a way to close his mouth to avoid getting the fateful seventh technical.
"I might have to really use some duct tape," admitted a smiling Howard.
The Cavs were up 79-78 moving to the fourth and the Magic wasted an eight- point lead in the final period of regulation.
Game Notes: Alston and Pietrus combined to shoot 11-of-23 from beyond the arc...Ilgauskas had 12 points and nine rebounds...Cleveland held a 50-36 advantage in points in the paint...The 17 made three-pointers are a playoff record for the Magic.