… Magic fall behind by 22 in first quarter
CLEVELAND, Ohio (Reuters) – LeBron James put on a virtuoso performance in the fourth quarter to will the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 112-102 win over the Orlando Magic on Thursday, as the Eastern Conference top seeds staved off elimination.
James tallied 17 of his 37 points in the final period and rounded off a stunning triple-double with 14 rebounds and 12 assists to pull the Cavs back to 3-2 in the best-of-seven conference finals series.
“It’s win or go home,” the league MVP told reporters after he had scored or assisted on 32 straight points for the home team.
“It was a big game for us. You never want to disappoint the home crowd by not playing as hard as you can.
“We have to play the same way (in Game Six in Orlando today) that we did today.”
Hedo Turkoglu had 29 points and Dwight Howard added 24 and 10 rebounds for the Magic, who led 90-89 midway through the fourth before Cleveland used a 13-3 spurt to open a 107-96 lead with 1:07 remaining.
Cavaliers guard Mo Williams chipped in with 24 points to give James the help he needed, while Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 16 and reserve Daniel Gibson drained a pair of key three-pointers in the fourth as part of an 11-point haul.
James, who has topped the 40-point mark in all three of his team’s losses, made a concerted effort to involve his team mates early on but decided it was time to take over in the final quarter.
“As you know, we didn’t do anything pretty, we just gave (James) the ball and said ‘get us some good looks’,” Cleveland coach Mike Brown said.
“LeBron was huge for us. He had a heck of a game — that is what great players do.”
As they have for much of the series, Orlando fell behind early on and trailed 34-12 with two minutes left in the first quarter.
However, Howard added 11 points in the second as the Magic pulled to within a point of the Cavaliers by halftime with a 37-21 quarter.
“The way we started the first and second quarter is unacceptable,” Orlando guard Mickael Pietrus said.
“Hopefully we can turn it around and win today. We’re still up, there is no rush.”
The Magic are trying to reach the NBA Finals for the first time since 1995 while the Cavaliers are vying to become the ninth team in NBA history to win a playoff series after trailing 3-1.