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Magic edge Cavs in overtime
Dwight Howard scores 10 points in overtime to push Orlando to brink of NBA finals.
Last Modified: 27 May 2009 09:12 GMT

Dwight Howard drives against Tony Battie [GALLO/GETTY]
Dwight Howard stepped up for the Orlando Magic to secure a 116-114 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Eastern Conference finals series.

Howard dominated the overtime period, putting the home team on the verge of a place in the finals.

Living up to his nickname 'Superman', Howard scored two free throws with 21 seconds remaining and capped a 10-point effort in the extra sessions as the centre finished with 27 points and 14 rebounds to help the Magic leave LeBron James's Cavs facing a series defeat.

Killer instinct

"Now it's time to close it out," Howard said after guiding his team to a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

"We have to have the killer instinct.

"If we want to win a championship this is what it takes."

League MVP James recorded 44 points to reach the 40-point barrier for the third time in the series, but all those games have ended in losses for the top seeded Cavs.

James made two free throws with less than a second remaining in regulation to send the game into the extra session, but his three-point attempt to win the contest at the overtime buzzer hit the rim of the basket before bouncing away.

Owners of the best record during the regular season, Cleveland won their first eight games in the playoffs, but have struggled to match up against the Magic, while dominant displays from James have not been emulated by team mates.

Cavaliers guard Mo Williams had 18 points, but shot just 5-for-15 from the field, while Delonte West added 17.

Orlando made 17 three-pointers, a post-season franchise-record, with six from point guard Rafer Alston who netted 26 points.

Losing control

The Magic led by eight points midway through the fourth quarter, but Cleveland clawed back to lead 98-97 with 1:05 left in regulation.

Rashard Lewis, who made a game-winning three-point bucket in Game One, drilled a baseline three to put Orlando up 100-98 with four seconds left, but James drew a foul and made his free throws to take the game into overtime.

Frustrating time for LeBron James [GALLO/GETTY]
Howard scored the first six points in overtime to put the Magic a step closer to their first NBA Finals since 1995.

Orlando can close out the series in Game Five on Thursday in Cleveland.

"It gets harder and harder," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said.

"When you've got a guy as great as (James) on the other side, you're a long way from being done."

James, averaging 42.2 points per game during the conference finals, may need more heroics to help the Cavaliers become just the ninth team in NBA history to overcome a 3-1 series deficit.

"I have to figure out a way not to have eight (turnovers)," said James, who also added 12 rebounds and seven assists.

"That's unacceptable to me."

Source:
Agencies
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