CLEVELAND (AP) -- Before leaving the court, LeBron James grabbed
a microphone and politely asked the sellout crowd in Gund Arena to
wish his mother a happy birthday.
A few moments earlier, he helped blow out the Orlando Magic's
James had 30 points and nine assists and Zydrunas Ilgauskas made
two big baskets in the final 1:43 as the Cleveland Cavaliers began
an important stretch at home with a 101-92 over Orlando on Saturday
Taking over when his team needed him, James had 18 points, six
assists and four rebounds in the second half to help the Cavaliers
avenge a three-point loss Tuesday night in Orlando.
Cleveland (27-19), which will play its next four games at Gund
Arena, improved to 17-4 at home.
"This was huge," James said. "We're on a pace to win 50-some
games, our goal is to get to 30 before the All-Star break."
James made 12 of 13 free throws, missing his only attempt with
23 seconds left and the game already decided. He came in just
19-of-29 in his previous three games from the line.
After trailing by 11 points in the fourth, Orlando closed to
92-89 on rookie Dwight Howard's free throw with 2:06 left. But
Ilgauskas, playing with five fouls, tipped in his own miss, and
after Sasha Pavlovic stole the ball from Grant Hill, Ilgauskas
dropped a 6-foot fadeaway to make it 96-89 with 1:06 remaining.
"Ilgauskas is tough," said Orlando's Tony Battie, who played
with Cleveland last season. "It's only a matter of time that he
gets his, and he came up big at the end."
Steve Francis, who had 30 points and 13 assists in the Magic's
win over Cleveland, had just 15 on 5-of-12 shooting. Hill had 17
points, but just two in the fourth quarter when the Magic tried to
"We had the momentum in the first half and then they just came
out and took it to us," said Hill. "They outplayed us, outhustled
Francis was hounded all night by the Cavs, who made sure they
didn't allow him any easy baskets.
"We trapped him wherever he got it, so he just couldn't pick us
apart," Cavs coach Paul Silas said.
Francis added nine assists but was disappointed that he couldn't
do more to help the Magic bounce back from a 112-100 loss in Boston
"We didn't play particularly well," he said. "More than that,
we didn't stick to what we do best. That's the second night in a
row that has happened."
James, selected an All-Star starter earlier in the week, has
scored more than 25 points in six straight games and is averaging
29.6 in three games since sitting out two with a sprained left
After a quiet second quarter, James picked it up in the third,
scoring eight points and adding five assists and two rebounds to
help the Cavaliers carry a 77-70 lead into the fourth. Gooden also
had eight points in the period.
Battie started 7-of-8 from the floor and scored 14 points -- two
under his season-high -- as the Magic took a 51-50 halftime lead.
But the 6-foot-11 forward didn't score in the second half.
James has nine games of 30 points or more. ... The Cavs
outscored the Magic 22-4 inside during the second half. ... Cavs
starting F Ira Newble ran on his injured Achilles on Saturday and
could be back on Tuesday against Toronto. ... Referee Bill Kennedy
needed a few moments to catch his breath after McInnis accidentally
kicked the ball and hit him in a sensitive spot. "Better him than
me," official Bob Delaney said of his hunched over colleague. ...
Magic coach Johnny Davis said Hill's selection to the All-Star team
is a fitting tribute to the forward's persistence in his comeback
from injury. "It's a tremendous honor," he said. "There's no
better example of what the NBA is all about. He plays at a very
high level and is such a quality person. For him to achieve the way
he has after missing four years is simply incredible." ... Gloria
James blushed when her son had the crowd count to three and yell,
"Happy Birthday, Gloria."
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