Final score: Orlando Magic 116, Cleveland Cavaliers 114 (OT)
All-Star center Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic are one victory away from advancing to the NBA Finals.
Analysis: Take away the miracle shot by LeBron James to win Game 2 and Orlando would already have punched its ticket for the NBA Finals. In Tuesday’s win, the Magic got the inside-outside balance and have figured out the best way to beat the Cavs, but it’s not a new formula: Make James work, wear him down and nullify everyone else.
The go-getter: Once again, Dwight Howard delivered for the Magic. He scored 10 of his 27 points in overtime and finished the game with 14 rebounds and three blocks. Howard was also 7-of-9 from the free throw line.
The brick-layer: All-Star guard Mo Williams guaranteed Cleveland would win Game 4, but didn’t fully hold up his end of the bargain to help the Cavs fend off the Magic. Yes he scored 18 points, but Williams shot 5-of-15 from the field, missing all three of his 3-point shot attempts.
The stunning stats: James came up with his third 40-point game in this series Tuesday (44 points) and Cleveland has lost each game. For all James has done, his eight turnovers Tuesday proved costly for the Cavaliers.
The play: With Orlando down one, Rashard Lewis hit a 3-pointer to put the Magic up, 100-98, with 4.1 seconds left. Although James forced overtime by making two free throws with .5 seconds left, if Lewis misses that shot, Cleveland likely wins the game to even the series.
What’s next: Game 5 Thursday in Cleveland, 8:30 p.m.
What to expect: It’s not about how the Cavaliers start the game because they blew huge leads in Game 1 and Game 2 at home against the Magic. What’s key is when it’s late in the game, will James trust his teammates or revert back to carrying the offense, thus leaving himself bare to making key mistakes down the stretch because he’s trying to do too much? Orlando isn’t changing its style. If the Cavaliers don’t stick to what works for them, their historic season will abruptly end Thursday.