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.
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
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
"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."
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
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
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.