The Magic's Jameer Nelson drives to the basket against the Cavaliers' Zydrunas Ilgauskas in Orlando's 117-116 victory against Cleveland
Photo by David Liam Kyle, NBAE/Getty Images
Holy freaking crap. I am going to have a heart attack if the Magic keep blowing late leads. Nevertheless, we pulled out a tight victory in overtime, with Dwight Howard nailing two clutch free throws -- yes, you read that correctly -- to win the game. Here's the boxscore.
We held a four-point lead with 20 seconds to play, then watched as LeBron James, a 63% foul shooter, hit three free throws to send the game into overtime.
I'll cut to the chase: the teams played evenly throughout overtime before Howard's free throw heroics with 5 seconds to play. On Cleveland's ensuing possession, LeBron James drove the lane, only to get tied up by Hedo Turkoglu at the buzzer, forcing a jump-ball with seven-tenths of a second remaining on the game clock. James' errant tip went out of bounds, and the Magic left The Q victorious.
Here's the tricky part: replays showed that there might have been some extracurricular activity between Turk and James on the final play. Not only did Turk reach across James' arms to force the jump-ball, but he also appeared to put his knee into James' back, causing The King to fall over. But the officials swallowed their whistles and "let the players play," to use a sports cliche. Stunned Cavaliers fans booed and jeered loudly as the teams walked off the court, with the courtside microphones picking up shouts of "You suck!" and "That was terrible!" among less printable taunts.
What a basketball game, though. It featured 19 lead changes and 11 ties. Even if we had lost, we shouldn't have gotten down on ourselves; either way, we took the defending Eastern Conference champions down to the wire on their home floor. The fact that we ended up winning -- albeit controversially -- is just icing on the cake.
I'm emotionally drained and in need of a shower, so I'll make the rest of this post brief:
- The Cavaliers are an incredible defensive team. Late in the game, the Magic couldn't seem to get anything going. No matter where the ball was, the Cavaliers defense was there to stop it. Our only hope was that they'd hack Dwight, and that Dwight would hit his free throws. We got lucky.
- Trailing by two points with two minutes to play in overtime, the Magic ran a play for... Keith Bogans?!?! He came off a screen, caught the ball just to the right of the three-point line, and drilled a jumper to give the Magic the lead. KEITH BOGANS?!?!
- LeBron James had a triple-double with 39 points, 13 boards, and 14 assists. I want to know: have the Magic ever won an overtime game in which an opponent posted a triple-double?
- I'd like to thank Mike Brown for letting Sasha Pavlovic shoot threes late in the game. Was he unaware that Daniel Gibson, whom I said could be a Magic-killer, was 5-of-5 in the game, including 4-of-4 on three-pointers? Thank you, Mike!
- Jameer Nelson: 21 points, 11 assists, 1 turnover. He has two double-doubles already this year, which is two more than he had last year. I feel silly for ever questioning him.
- If these two teams meet in the Playoffs, it's going to be fun to watch.
- Cavaliers. Fun to watch. I can't believe I just said that.
- Hedo Turkoglu has officially come back down to Earth. After punishing teams in earlier games with hot shooting, Turk has cooled off considerably. He scored 13 points tonight, but needed 15 shots to do it. And last night, he turned the ball over 8 times. Wake up, Hedo! You're killing me!
- It wasn't just the two free throws late that Dwight hit; he was 13-of-16 on the night. Can he make these high-percentage free-throw nights more frequent? One can hope.
- Before I forget: 35 points and 16 rebounds for D-12 tonight. Explain to me how one can rationalize voting in Shaquille O'Neal over him to the All-Star game.
The Magic get a day off tomorrow before facing Richard Jefferson (?!) and his Nets in New Jersey on Friday.