James had 28 points, seven assists and five rebounds in his
first game after missing two with a sprained left ankle, but the
Cavaliers lost to the Orlando Magic 105-102 on Tuesday night.
Orlando was led by Steve Francis' 30 points and season
high-tying 13 assists.
Cleveland coach Paul Silas expected that James would play, but
it wasn't until game time that the Cavaliers star made the decision
"I'm not going to play if I'm still thinking about (the ankle)
and favoring it," said James, 10-of-20 from the field. "I feel
After a quiet first half, James scored 17 points and his short
jumper with 44 seconds left tied it at 102.
"I'm really glad to have him back," Silas said. "He makes the
game easy for us."
But James' comeback wasn't without flaws. He opened the game
with an airball, missed his three 3-point tries and was 8-for-13
from the line-- four misses coming in the fourth quarter.
"We gave ourselves every chance in the world to win, but we
just couldn't get over the hump," James said.
Still, Cleveland appeared to have sent the game into overtime
when Jeff McInnis rattled home a buzzer-beating 3-pointer. But
after a brief huddle the officials waved off the shot, with replays
clearly showing the ball in McInnis' hands as the clock ran out.
"I was like, 'I hope it doesn't go," said Orlando's Grant
Hill, who scored 21. "I was so tired. I need to rest up."
Added Silas: "It was just another loss. We lost it, and move on
-- that's what I told the guys."
McInnis had 19 points. Drew Gooden, traded from Orlando in the
offseason, had 15 points and 13 rebounds to lead three Cavaliers in
The Cavaliers have alternated losses and wins for the last 11
games. It's the NBA's longest streak since the New York Knicks did
the same for 14 straight games in 1997-98.
Orlando has won three of four games, and seven of eight at home.
Francis' free throws with 30.2 seconds remaining broke a tie,
and Eric Snow missed an open 3-pointer off James' pass. The
Cavaliers missed six of seven shots in the final 2½ minutes, with
Snow misfiring on three.
Silas, asked whether he wants Snow shooting the ball in crunch
time, replied, "Why not? That's what he gets paid for."
Francis rebounded, was fouled with 16.3 seconds to go and made a
free throw for the game's final points. He was 10-for-14 from the
field and 10-for-12 from the line. The double-double was his 12th.
Over the last three games, Francis averaged 28.7 points while
shooting 51 percent. His good play is coming after an awful
10-point, 1-for-12 performance against Washington on Friday, a
night saved only by his game-winning shot in the closing seconds.
"He's very explosive, he's hard to contain and he still has
tremendous upside in his game," Magic coach Johnny Davis said.
"There's room for growth in his game. Tonight, even though he had
more turnovers than you'd like (seven), I thought he was under
control throughout the game."
Orlando center Andrew DeClercq also celebrated a birthday,
his 32nd. ... Earlier Tuesday, the Cavaliers signed forward-center
Jerome Moiso to a 10-day contract. To make room on the roster,
forward-center Anderson Varejao was placed on the injured list with
a sprained left ankle. ... Orlando center Kelvin Cato returned from
a three-game absence due to a sinus infection. ... The game was
briefly delayed coming out of a second-quarter timeout, after a
Magic dancer's necklace broke and scattered beads across the floor.
... The 1988 Super Bowl MVP Doug Williams was among the 15,092 in