Friday, May 29, 2009
Eastern Conference Finals Game 5
LeBron isn't asking for much in terms of help from his teammates. No one other than LeBron had what might be deemed a stellar sort of night Thursday for the Cavs, but it was enough to get by at home for a 112-102 win in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, cutting Orlando's lead to 3-2. LeBron scored or assisted on 32 straight points in the third and fourth quarters, racking up a triple-double with 37 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists. He was extraordinary, but failed to score 40 points for just the second time in this series. Those two occasions are, not coincidentally, the two games the Cavs have won. LeBron was not alone Thursday, as the man acquired to be LeBron's second-in-command finally played like it. Mo Williams nailed six of nine attempts from behind the arc for 24 points, and his hustle play with the team down by one and 6:09 to go helped turn the game in Cleveland's favor. He hustled after a missed three-pointer, diving out of bounds to save the ball and bouncing it off the leg of Rafer Alston to ensure the Cavs retained possession. Williams then assisted LeBron on a three-point play that put Cleveland in front for good. Daniel Gibson helped seal the victory with eight of his surprising 11 points in the fourth quarter, as he found his missing shot to go 3-for-4 from three-point range. Zydrunas Ilgauskas held his own against Dwight Howard, with 6-for-8 shooting for 16 points and six rebounds. That was all the Cavs needed in a topsy-turvy game that saw Cleveland blow a 22-point lead in the first half, Orlando take a six point lead in the third quarter, and the Cavs wind up pulling away for a double-digit victory. The Cavs emerged shooting 50 percent as a team and, thanks to Williams and Gibson, 50 percent from behind the arc, while the Magic shot just 46 percent from the floor and 32 percent on 25 shots from from three-point range. The Magic failed to take advantage of an edge at the free throw line, making just one more shot on 41 trips to the line compared to 34 attempts for the Cavs. It was an especially long night for Rafer Alston, who followed a career high 26 points in Game 4 with jus three on 1-for-10 shooting Thursday. Rashard Lewis struggled as well, going 4-for-13 for 15 points, but the resurgent Hedo Turkoglu made up for it with 29 points, a playoff career high of his own. Dwight Howard was once more brilliant in the paint, going 8-for-10 for 24 points and 10 rebounds, but again didn't get enough shots to become a dominant force, and fouled out with 2:21 to go. Howard isn't likely to publicly rehash his complaints about a lack of offensive involvement before Game 6 on Saturday, but he would be wise to do so in private. The Magic must feed Howard when he's on his game and others, like Lewis and Alston, are not. It is an ironic juxtaposition of superstars, in which one must become less integral to his team's offense and the other must become more so.