Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty
Dwight Howard posted a double-double.
SHANGHAI, China, Oct. 17 (AP) -- The NBA took another step toward expanding its presence in China on Wednesday, with the Orlando Magic defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers 90-86 in an exhibition game behind Dwight Howard's 31 points and 14 rebounds.
The game, featuring LeBron James and attended by NBA commissioner David Stern, was played at Qizhong Arena on the outskirts of Shanghai. The teams play again Saturday in the former Portuguese territory of Macau. On Thursday in Macau, the Magic face a Chinese all-star team, part of the NBA's "China Games.''
Jameer Nelson added 24 points for Orlando, while James led Cleveland with 17 and Larry Hughes scored 16. James played only 28 minutes and Hughes 27, both resting late in the game when Orlando rallied to take control.
Orlando tied it 84-84 on Howard's inside basket with 1:16 to play and then drew away, with Nelson hitting four of four free throws down the stretch.
Orlando trailed 46-42 at halftime and took its first lead at 49-48 on a dunk by Howard. But James scored two fast-break baskets - one on a slam - to give the Cavaliers a 61-53 lead with 5:21 to play in the third quarter. The Cavs were up 72-64 entering the fourth period, but the lead slipped away, with James and Hughes on the bench.
Before the game, Stern discussed the NBA's new China subsidiary, NBA China. Timothy Chen, one of China's top business executives, began work Monday as the company's new chief executive officer. Stern said long-term plans called for setting up "the second NBA, the NBA of China.''
He didn't specify what form that will take, but Stern said the expansion will involve working with the 16-team China Basketball Association.
NBA officials have said the 80-person staff in China is set to grow five times in the next several years with increased revenues sure to follow.
Stern held two days of meetings in China talking with TV partners, advertisers and sponsors about ways to expand basketball in China.
He called the project "long term'' and said the NBA was seeking financing. Ninety percent of the new subsidiary will be owned by the league. Two five-percent shares will be sold to Chinese investors and to a U.S. media company.