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Cavaliers outlast Magic 97-93, extend East lead

The team is special.  They find a way to win games, find a way to get the job done.  They have done it all year and did it once again tonight as the Cavaliers outscored the Orlando Magic 31-18 over the final 13:26 to knock off the Orlando Magic 97-93.  It was a game that looked eerily similar to the Cavaliers 11-point loss in Orlando. 

The Cavs got off to a hot start, led by 10 points in the first quarter, watched the lead evaporate and lacked energy and defensive focus in the 3rd quarter.  Before the Cavs knew it, a 3 point half-time lead turned into a 9 point deficit.  That is when LeBron James took over, as he has done so many times before.

Down 5, with 3.3 seconds to go in the 3rd quarter, LeBron took an entry pass from mid court, sprinted to the basket and got the layup off the glass to fall to cut the lead to 3.  James started the 4th in similar fashion, burying the long range three to bring the Cavs all the way back, tied at 75.  From there, the game went back and forth as each team missed as many big shots as they made.

For the Cavaliers, it was renewed focus on the defensive end and the two-headed monster that is LeBron James and Mo Williams.  William hit a huge spot-up three with 2 minutes to go that gave the Cavaliers a 92-91 lead, and it was LeBron burying a long 3 to give the Cavs the lead for good 95-93.

For James, he scored 14 in the 1st quarter, 18 in the 4th and finished with 43 points, 12 rebounds and 8 assists.  Mo Williams added 21 points.

I can't talk about the win, however, without mentioning some of the bad.  The Cavaliers just didn't play their type of defense for most of the 2nd and 3rd quarters and it nearly cost them.  You could see the intensity increase, especially at the start of the 4th quarter when LeBron and Co. started to run through screens and close on perimter shots.  They were able to force the Magic into some bad shots and were able to make just enough plays to get the win.

On the injury front, Wally Szczerbiak left the game with a sprained left knee and did not return. 

It was fun to watch a mid-March NBA game that had all the drama of a mid-May playoff game.  The Cavs now lead the Magic by 5 games, and at worst will maintain their 3.5 game lead over Boston.