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James' buzzer-beater lifts Cavaliers over Magic

LEBRON James made a 3-point shot as the final buzzer sounded to give the Cleveland Cavaliers an exhilarating 96-95 win over the visiting Orlando Magic yesterday, evening their NBA Eastern Conference finals series 1-1.

Having only lost one match at home all season before the shock loss in Game 1, the Cavaliers looked like suffering extraordinary successive losses before James, from 23 feet, made the vital shot.

Taking an inbound pass from Mo Williams, James only had time to turn his shoulders toward the rim and fire. As the shot dropped in, James sprinted into the arms of his teammates.

Game 3 is Sunday in Orlando, where the Magic beat the Cavaliers twice this season and thumped them by 29 points on April 3.

A second before James' shot, Orlando's Hedo Turkoglu hit a 12-footer in the lane to give the Magic, who overcame a 23-point deficit in the first half, a 95-93 lead.

Cleveland called a timeout and set up a play for James, the league's MVP who finished with 35 points.

James darted toward the basket to get some room on Turkoglu and cut back near the top of the circle before letting loose with the shot of his life.

"We just couldn't afford to go down 0-2," James said. "That's just a great shot. Now we have to get ready for Game 3. There's a lot to clean up.

"Wow. I seen it before, Hedo has hit big shot after big shot in the regular season and I had to match him shot for shot," James said. "Rashard Lewis hit the game-winner in Game 1 and I matched it in Game 2.

"I knew it was good," James said of his shot, "but you never know. The camera never lies and they had to go check it out."

For Cleveland, Williams had 19 points and Zydrunas Ilguakas had 12 points and 15 rebounds.

Orlando's Rashard Lewis scored 23 points and Turkoglu had 21. Dwight Howard scored 10 - 20 below his Game 1 performance - and added 18 rebounds.

For much of the game, the Cavaliers' offense was misfiring and their defense was lax, allowing the Magic to overcome a huge deficit for the second straight game.

Turkoglu's 3-pointer with 48.7 seconds left had tied it 93-93. The Cavs appeared to take the lead on a James' layup but he was called for traveling, one of several calls that could have gone either way in a second half filled with whistles.

"That walk - great call by the refs," James said, "glad I had a chance to redeem myself."

Turkoglu's shot to make it 95-93 had Cleveland fans reliving all those moments of sports heartbreak that have led to the city's 45-year championship drought in major sports before James restored their hope.


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