ORLANDO, Fla., Feb. 1 (Ticker) --
The Cleveland Cavaliers welcomed
back to the lineup. The Orlando Magic had the
answer in Steve Francis
Francis scored 30 points, including Orlando's final 10 in the
decisive fourth quarter, as the Magic edged the Cavaliers,
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"It was neck and neck," said Francis, who tied a season high
with 13 assists and added six rebounds. "I thought we were able
to make big plays down at the end that really propelled us."
James returned after sitting out the previous two contests with
a sprained ankle and showed no signs of his injury, leading five
Cavaliers in double figures with 28 points.
"We had every opportunity in the fourth quarter to win this
game," said James, who added seven assists and five rebounds.
"We had open shots and we just didn't knock them down."
After James converted a three-point play with 44 seconds
remaining to tie the game at 102-102, Francis made two free
throws at the 30-second mark to give Orlando a two-point lead.
On the ensuing possession, Orlando double-teamed James, forcing
him to pass to Eric Snow
, who missed a 3-pointer with 18 seconds
left. After Francis made only 1-of-2 free throws, the Cavaliers
had one last possession to try and send the game into overtime.
James missed a long 3-pointer with eight seconds remaining, and
the rebound was tapped to Jeff McInnis
, who launched an apparent
buzzer-beating 3-pointer as time expired. But after looking at
the replay, the officials waved off the basket.
"I didn't think he got it off in time," James said. "By the horn
he got it off, but not by the red (light) on the backboard."
Snow had a tough shooting night, connecting on just 2-of-8
shots. He missed three attempts in the final two minutes that
would have given the Cavaliers the lead. "We had opportunities,"
Snow said. "I think if I make a couple of shots, it's not a
guarantee that we win, but our chances increase."
scored 21 points and Hedo Turkoglu
added 15 off the bench for
Orlando, which went 3-1 in a stretch of four games in five days.
The game had 24 ties and 27 lead changes and neither team led by
more than nine points. Orlando was able to get out and run,
outscoring Cleveland, 20-4, on the fast break, while Cleveland
dominated the glass with 18-3 advantage in offensive rebounds
that led to a 20-4 edge in second-chance points.
McInnis scored 19 points and Drew Gooden
added 15 and 13
rebounds in his first game against his former team.
"That was a hard-fought but well-earned victory," Magic coach
said. "I thought the offensive rebounding part was
killing us, but we made the plays down the stretch that we had