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Magic stun LeBron, Cavaliers 107-106

DWIGHT Howard scored 30 points and Rashard Lewis added 22 as the Orlando Magic rallied from a 15-point halftime deficit to hand LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers their first loss of the postseason, 107-106 yesterday in the Eastern Conference finals opener.

James finished with 49 points, eight assists and six rebounds, but the league Most Valuable player walked off the floor with a slight limp after Cleveland's stunning loss - just its third in 46 home games.

Lewis made a 3-pointer with 14.7 seconds left and the Magic, who dethroned the champion Boston Celtics in the previous round, survived two shots by Cleveland in the final seconds. Mo Williams missed a catch-and-shoot jumper off a jump ball as the horn sounded and the Cavs fell to 8-1 in the postseason.

"It's a big victory," said Howard, who broke one of the shot clocks with a dunk in the opening minutes. "We kept fighting the whole game. We kept believing we could win."

Game 2 is Friday night at Quicken Loans Arena, which fell eerily silent after the Magic's win.

As fans headed to the exits, they turned to observe James still on the floor and bent over in obvious pain. He seemed to be bothered by cramps in the fourth quarter and was tended to by Cleveland's training staff before slowly making his way to the locker room.

"I'm not hurt," said James, who felt the long layoff - the Cavs hadn't played since May 11 - may have contributed to the cramping.

The Cavaliers lost their grip on the game with a stagnant third quarter that carried into the fourth. Also, the Magic shot 55 percent from the floor - 59 percent in the second half - against the league's top defensive team.

"That's unacceptable," James said. "We should have lost."

Orlando, which won two games and lost one against Cleveland in the regular season, took its first lead at 85-84 with 10:06 left when Anthony Johnson hit a 3-pointer from the left corner. The bucket seemed to suck the air out of the raucous building and Cavs coach Mike Brown quickly called a timeout to stop the Magic's run and get James back in.

The Magic, though, kept making big shots with Lewis hitting a jumper with 31.6 seconds left to give Orlando a 104-103 lead.

James then drove and scored on a runner while drawing a sixth foul on Howard, who added 13 rebounds. James completed the three-point play for a 106-104 lead but Lewis came down and buried his 3-pointer over a closing Anderson Varejao.

On Cleveland's last possession, Delonte West missed an open 3 pointer, but the Cavs were able to force a jump ball. James tipped it behind him to Williams, but his last-second prayer hit the back of the rim.


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