July 23, 2016

Mostly sunny

Cavs on the brink

Rick Noland
The Gazette

LeBron James was “The King.” Dwight Howard was Superman.

But once again, James’ gang was nowhere to be found, while Howard’s teammates were right there with him as the Orlando Magic defeated the Cavaliers 116-114 in over-time Tuesday night in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals.

Orlando now leads the best-of-seven series 3-1, meaning the Cavaliers will attempt to become just the ninth team in NBA history to battle back from that deficit and win a series.

If they’re going to do it – heck, if they’re even going to get this series to last more than five games – James is going to have to get some help.

Sure, the 6-foot-8, 250-pounder committed an uncharacteristic eight turnovers in Game 4, but the Cavaliers would simply have had no chance without his remarkable 44-point, 12-rebound, seven-assist per-formance, which included two pressure-packed free throws that tied the game with 0.5 seconds left in regulation.

Howard was almost as good, as he finished with 27 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and three blocks. The 6-11, 265-pounder was at his best in OT, when he scored on three dunks and a tip-in.

“I had to get myself go-ing,” Howard said. “My teammates found me in the right spots.”

James couldn’t find many teammates, period. Delonte West was fairly solid in finishing with 17 points, while Zydrunas Ilgauskas had 12, but Mo Williams vanished for vir-tually the entire second half and OT.

Williams finished with 18 points, but they were a very deceiving 18. He shot 5-of-15 from the field and is now 23-of-71 in the series.

More pivotal, it’s hard to remember Williams doing anything – good or bad – in the second half, when he was a total non-factor.

Perhaps the point guard, who guaranteed the Cavaliers would win this series prior to Game 4, should simply vow to play better. Heck, perhaps he should vow to play, period.

Right now, he looks scared, and you can tell James realizes it, because he has to go and get the ball on every possession in order for the Cavaliers to get into anything resembling an offense.

James now has scoring totals of 49, 35, 41 and 44 points in this series, but his team has just one win.


He’s getting next to no help and Howard is.

Rafer Alston had 26 points in Game 4, including 15 in a third period where the Cavaliers simply refused to guard him. Hedo Turkoglu put up 15 points, six rebounds and seven assists, while Rashard Lewis overcame a slow start to finish with 17 points.

Then there are the re-spective benches. Mickael Pietrus had 17 more points in Game 4, giving him 56 for the series, or 15 more than all Cleveland’s reserves have combined.

Tuesday, the Magic bench outscored Cleveland’s 26-14, yet another reason why Orlando is one win from advancing to the NBA Finals.

“We kept fighting,” How-ard said. “That’s what we do.”

The Cavaliers battled as well, but James did most of the fighting on his own.

If he doesn’t get some help soon, Cleveland’s sea-son will be over.

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rickn@ohio.net.

Rick Noland About Rick Noland

Rick Noland is the Cavs beat writer for The Gazette and the author of "Over Time," a compilation of stories he's written in more than 30 years as a journalist. He can be reached at 330-721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.