Williams' guarantee hurting
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Mo Williams' Game 4 guarantee blew up like his swollen left eye.
Starting fast and fading late, Williams had 18 points but went scoreless in the fourth quarter and overtime as the Cleveland Cavaliers lost 116-114 Tuesday night to the Orlando Magic to go down 3-1 in the Eastern Conference finals.
"I'm a leader on this team. Whatever I can do to spark this team and give us confidence, I'll do," Williams said. "If I have to take the heat, so be it."
Cleveland's only other All-Star provided little help to LeBron James when it counted most. He deferred to the league MVP and clanked the few jumpers he took. Williams finished with five rebounds, two assists and one false proclamation.
"Guarantee we're going to win the series? Yeah, yeah," Williams said Monday.
His eye still swollen and stitches concealing the wound from the elbow he took in Game 3 from Orlando's Anthony Johnson, Williams had 12 points in the first half and then pretty much disappeared.
He finished 5 for 15 from the field, with eight of his points coming on free throws. Williams attempted only two shots after the third period, and like most of the Cavs, he leaned heavily on James.
"I put the ball in LeBron's hands," Cavs coach Mike Brown said. "So he didn't defer. I went small. That's why he didn't get a ton of touches."
Magic point guard Rafer Alston said Williams' prediction was their biggest motivation.
"I had it in the back of my mind. I wanted to take it to him, and he wasn't even guarding me. LeBron was," Alston said.
Johnson was all smiles in the Magic's locker room afterward. He poked fun at Williams' prediction and savored Orlando's win that he said made his opponent look foolish.
"The guy's out there chirping and talking and all that kind of stuff," Johnson said. "They were, all of them, doing a little more talking than usual. But as long as none of them put their hands on me, I'm cool."
It has been a rough series for Williams.
In the second quarter of Game 3, Johnson drove the lane and extended his elbow, knocking Williams to the floor bleeding. Williams was called for a blocking foul, and Johnson was whistled for a flagrant one foul after officials huddled. The flagrant, which Williams said was "most definitely" a cheap shot, was rescinded earlier Tuesday by the league.
His statistics are almost as painful.
Williams is 23 for 71 in the series and has been hardly as efficient as he was in the regular season, when he averaged a career-high 17.8 points. Game 5 is Thursday night in Cleveland, and now the Cavs must do what only eight teams in NBA history ever have: come back from a 3-1 hole.
The time for guarantees is almost up.
"Nobody would be asking about it, they'd be talking good about it, we would be 2-2 right now if we won," Williams said. "Our coach would look real good."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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