Guts, grit, determination, and even a few demons exorcised. The Cavaliers did a little bit of all of it tonight at The Q, warding off elimination and staying alive 112-102. Starting anywhere else than with the greatest player on the planet would be simply unfair, though what else can we say about LeBron. James scored 17 points in the 4th quarter, while nailing down a triple-double. In fact, at one point, LeBron had scored or assisted on 32 straight points, a true indication of how great he was down the stretch.
A far cry from the way LeBron finished Game 4, when he looked tired. Hell, at the end of the 3rd quarter, with the Magic leading by 1, James looked spent as well. Something happened, however, something we have been waiting for all series long -- James got some help. It started with a Mo Williams three, followed by a Daniel Gibson triple. LeBron seemed energized by the fact his teammates were finally hitting open shots and decided that it was time to take over.
Whether it was attacking the basket, hitting long range jumpers, or creating easy looks for his teammates, LeBron did it all as the Cavs outscored the Magic 34-23 in the 4th, the first time the Cavaliers had won a 2nd half quarter the entire series.
While LeBron was the story, the help he has been looking for, the help he has received all season, finally arrived. Five Cavaliers scored in double-digits, lead by James with 37. Mo Williams added 24, the first time someone other than #23 scored more than 20 points. Zydrunas Ilgauskas scored 16, Delonte West 13 and Daniel Gibson, for one night at least, regained his shooting touch, scoring 11.
Early on, Game 5 took on the look and feel of Games 1 and 2. The Cavs jumped out to a big lead, 22 at it's largest, before allowing the Magic to chip away. Orlando was down one at halftime and you could sense the tension in the air. It got even thicker in the 3rd quarter when the Magic came out and scoring the first 8 points to actually lead by as many as 8.
The Cavs battled back, however, and trailed by one entering the 4th quarter, setting the stage for James.
A note to all the conspiracy theorists out there. Once again, the Orlando Magic shot several more free throws than the Cavaliers(41-34). Total fouls were nearly even(27-25) with a few of those picked up late when Orlando was intentionally fouling. As much as the Magic players and coaches, and fans for that matter, want to play the "the NBA wants LeBron James in the Finals" card, the numbers just don't support it. Sorry.
For the Cavs it is one game. They still need two more. But if the Cavs take advantage of it, the worth of tonight's win could be so much more. The Cavs finally played well in the second half of a game. They finally won a 4th quarter. They finally got contributions from the bench and the other starters. Most importantly, LeBron seems to have found a second wind, one that surely will be there for Game 6.
Orlando has thrived in the 'underdog' role. They have thrived on the lack-of-respect card. Both are null and void now. It is the Magic that are the favorites, the Magic the are expected to finish off the Cavs. Cleveland thwarted them off tonight. Can they do it again?
Game 6, Saturday Night from Orlando. GO CAVS!