That's the kind of game we need to see from Mo Williams to save this series!
The season continues: James' brilliant fourth quarter keeps Cavaliers alive in Game 5, 112-102
by Brian Windhorst/Plain Dealer Reporter
Thursday May 28, 2009, 11:37 PM
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Cavaliers made several statements on Thursday night. The most important may have been the one they made to themselves.
They can beat the Orlando Magic, a concept that has seemed doubtful at times during this rocky Eastern Conference finals. They can do it playing their own way, even if it means having to absorb body blows and intense and sometimes unrelenting pressure.
The Cavs took what they hope is their first step in a comeback by out-battling the Magic, 112-102, in Game 5 at The Q.
It was a high-scoring game that saw an early 22-point lead turn into an 8-point deficit with stunning swiftness, not your typical Cavs effort. But it also showed just what it is going to take to eliminate the Cavs from the playoffs.
Quite a bit.
Now the series shifts back to Orlando as the Magic get their second chance for a closeout game. But they will have to do so under pressure for the first time all series.
If the Cavs are to steal one in Central Florida, it will probably take the same sort of effort they put forth in Game 5. Not only was it the deepest performance of the five games but it also saw some of the Magic's unsungs stop playing like such heroes.
That and yet another superior effort from LeBron James, who doesn't yet seem to be tiring of them yet.
James had his best all-around game of the series and his first triple double of the postseason when the Cavs had to have it. He scored 37 points with 12 assists and set a career playoff high with 14 rebounds. Those numbers can seem numbing without this context: From late in the third quarter to late in the fourth, James scored or assisted on 32 consecutive Cavs points.
John Kuntz/The Plain Dealer The Cavaliers, as Wally Szczerbiak showed on this second-half play, were determined not to let Dwight Howard get easy baskets inside. Howard scored 24 points before fouling out.
Coach Mike Brown took a page out of the Magic book and put James in the high post at the center of the floor not unlike the way the Magic use Hedo Turkoglu and Dwight Howard in their middle pick-and-rolls. Surrounding him with a small lineup and a couple of teammates who were hot, notably Mo Williams and Daniel Gibson, turned out to be a perfect adjustment.
"I knew there was going to be an opportunity to press the gas on the offensive end," James said. "It was something the players and coaches came up with to exploit their defense and take advantage of my shooters."
When the Magic gave him space, he repeatedly bulled into the lane and into Howard, drawing fouls until Howard was disqualified. The final foul for Howard came with 2:22 left as James crunched into him and somehow got the ball on the rim and into the net. When he finished the three-point play, the Cavs had pretty much finished the Magic and earned new life.
James scored 17 points in the fourth quarter and dished out four assists. Three went to Williams and Gibson for 3-pointers.
"They're giving him the ball in the middle of the floor. The game is all LeBron all the time," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "It is a difficult area to double team in because of shooters and his passing. It gets real tough because he has shooters and if he gets in the lane it is automatically a foul."
Williams finally was able to summon the sort of All-Star performance he gave for much of the season. He made his first four shots, seeming comfortable on the floor for the first time in about a month. He finished with 24 points on 7-of-14 shooting. Four other Cavs scored in double figures, again the sort of team-wide production that was a characteristic of so much of the season.
Tracy Boulian/The Plain DealerWally Szczerbiak and LeBron James enjoy the biggest basket of Thursday's Game 5, a fourth-quarter drive and score that drew the sixth foul of the game on Dwight Howard (rear).
Zydrunas Ilgauskas made 6-of-8 shots and put up 16 points despite having his hands full dealing with Howard, who presented a problem just about every minute he was on the floor. Ilgauskas, as in Game 4, finished the game on the bench after fouling out -- as did Anderson Varejao.
Delonte West had another strong game with 13 points though he, too, had struggles on defense. Daniel Gibson followed up his good shooting in Game 4 by hitting three more 3-pointers in Game 5 on his way to 11 points.
The Cavs played a more standard style of defense than they had been using in the first four games. They did not cross-match James on Rafer Alston and played straight up and attached to the Magic's strong shooters when they could. It had both positive and negative effects.
Alston came back to earth after his 26 points in Orlando and went just 1-of-10 from the floor. His missing production turned out to be a difference for the Magic. So did Rashard Lewis, who had 15 points but went just 4-of-12 shooting. Without as much space, the Magic made just 8-of-25 3-pointers.
The Howard/Hedo Turkoglu pick-and-roll was still a problem. Orlando got 24 points from Howard before he fouled out on 8-of-10 shooting with 10 rebounds. Turkoglu had his best scoring game of the series with 29 points. But the Cavs simply had more support.
"Our mental focus and awareness were there," Brown said. "Especially down the stretch."