Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series starts 2/1

Game 1: Tuesday, February 1st
Game 2: Saturday, February 5th
Game 3: Tuesday, March 8th
Game 4: Monday, April 11th

Magic 92

(31-28, 10-20 away)

Cavaliers 111

(32-27, 22-8 home)

Coverage: FSOH

7:00 PM ET, March 8, 2005

Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH

1 2 3 4 T
ORL 22 27 18 2592
CLE 25 28 31 27111

Top Performers

Orl: J. Nelson 17 Pts, 5 Reb, 6 Ast, 1 Stl

Cle: D. Gooden 23 Pts, 5 Reb, 5 Ast, 3 Stl, 1 Blk

LeBron scores 23 in Cavs first win since Feb. 23

CLEVELAND (AP) -- All that was missing was Beyonce, a few video monitors and a pair of turntables.

The postgame scene in Cleveland's crowded locker room Tuesday night was much more MTV than NBA.

R&B superstar Usher, mega-hit producer/rapper Jermaine Dupri, new Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert and others mingled with players as television camera crews captured every moment for posterity.

There was reason to celebrate: the Cavaliers had won again.

LeBron James scored 23 points and Gooden had 23 more in his return to Cleveland's starting lineup as the Cavaliers snapped a six-game losing streak with a 111-92 win over the Orlando Magic.

Cheered on by minority owner Usher, who grabbed a microphone and boldly guaranteed a victory in the second quarter, the Cavaliers won for the first time since Feb. 23. But it had seemed much longer ago as Cleveland's longest losing skid this season had dropped the club back in the Eastern Conference standings.

"We needed this win," James said. "Everybody stepped up. We were slipping back and it had to stop."

James took it upon himself to make sure the Cavaliers got back on track, adding eight assists and seven rebounds in 40 minutes. Gooden finished 10-of-13 from the field and added five rebounds and five assists.

Gooden's inconsistency had prompted Cavs coach Paul Silas to replace him for two games as a starter by Robert Traylor. The benching seemed to awaken Gooden, who had one of his best all-around games this season against the team that traded him last summer.

"He woke up," Silas said. "I've been waiting for him to play like that. I liked his whole approach. When we needed big hoops, he provided them. He rebounded and defended."

Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 18 points and Jeff McInnis 13 and eight assists for Cleveland.

Steve Francis scored 21 points and rookie Jameer Nelson had 17 for Orlando, which had its win streak stopped at three.

During a timeout in the second quarter and the Cavaliers leading 45-35, Usher, wearing a leather Cavaliers jacket with "Usher" sewn into the back, walked to center court and told the crowd to stand during "this win that we're about to get."

If the Cavaliers didn't hear Usher's boast, the Magic did.

"He was talking outside his neck," Francis said. "He didn't know what he was saying, that's why we play ball and he's an entertainer."

The Cavaliers made Usher's prediction a reality, pulling away in the third quarter for a much-needed victory.

"He isn't going to go out there and say we're going to lose," James said. "If he says something like that, well, we've got to back it up -- and we did."

The Magic were without All-Star forward Grant Hill, who is nursing a sore left shin after getting kicked last week. Hill, averaging 19.3 points per game, is also expected to miss Wednesday's game in Toronto.

Magic coach Johnny Davis said the club is being extra cautious with Hill, who is having a remarkable comeback season after missing most of the past four years with ankle injuries and surgery.

But even with Hill, Orlando would have had its hands full with a Cleveland team desperate for a win.

Sparked by the return of rookie forward Anderson Varejao, the Cavaliers came out with more energy than they'd shown in weeks. They took control in the third quarter, outscoring the Magic 31-18.

Cleveland then put it away in the fourth with Varejao's layup capping a 6-0 run that made it 90-68 with 9:03 remaining. James, Gooden and Cleveland's other starters were pulled with 5:45 left and the Cavs up by 20.

"I wouldn't describe it as a wakeup call," Gooden said of his two-game demotion. "I had a good game. Everybody's a genius now."

Game notes

The Cavs are 1-3 since Gilbert took over as majority owner. He was relieved to get win No. 1 of his era. "I was beginning to feel like I was bad luck," he said. ... Usher sat in a courtside seat with two massive bodyguards nearby. He met with the Cavaliers' in-game production staff beforehand and toured Gund Arena. Usher, whose percentage of the team is not known, has promised to improve the game-night experience for fans. Following the game, he exchanged pager numbers with James. ... At halftime, the Cavaliers honored their 1975-76 "Miracle of Richfield" team that won the franchise's only Central Division title and made the Eastern Conference finals. Members of the team, including Austin Carr, Nate Thurmond and coach Bill Fitch, raised a banner commemorating their division crown. ... Magic F Doug Christie will likely undergo surgery to have bone spurs removed from his left ankle. ... The Magic are 3-3 since Nelson became a starter.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 92 111
FGM-FGA 34-81 (.420) 45-86 (.523)
3PM-3PA 4-10 (.400) 7-14 (.500)
FTM-FTA 20-29 (.690) 14-21 (.667)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 12-40 8-38
Assists 17 33
Turnovers 17 11
Steals 5 9
Blocks 9 12
Fast Break Points 17 17
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 20 (2/0) 24 (1/0)
Largest Lead 0 22

Top Performers

Jameer Nelson Nelson
Points: 17
Reb: 5
Ast: 6
Stl: 1
Blk: 0
Drew Gooden Gooden
Points: 23
Reb: 5
Ast: 5
Stl: 3
Blk: 1