Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Monday | June 1, 2009
Home : Sport
Magic make Cavs disappear
ORLANDO, Florida (AP):

Dwight Howard dominated inside for 40 points and Rashard Lewis added 18 as the Orlando Magic beat LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 103-90 to reach the NBA finals on Saturday night.

Orlando hit 12 three-pointers to dominate Game Six of the Eastern Conference finals and set up a showdown with the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Magic will be making their first finals appearance since 1995, one year before Shaquille O'Neal bolted as a free agent for Los Angeles, leaving this Florida franchise in ruins.

It's been a long, slow climb back, but Orlando has been rebuilt and will meet the Lakers on Thursday night at the Staples Center in Game One.

Incredible heart

"I just think this team all year long has shown an incredible amount of heart," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "This team just keeps fighting back. They deserve it."

With the city's most famous athlete, Tiger Woods, sitting courtside, Orlando made believers of all those who wondered if they were better than the Cavaliers, a team that won 66 games in the regular season, or the defending champion Boston Celtics.

"I don't think people thought we could be at this level," Van Gundy said.

James scored 25 points in his worst game of the series, but the 24-year-old was magnificent for most of it, adding to a legacy still in its infancy. But the league MVP had to do most of it alone, as Mo Williams lost his shooting touch and Cleveland's bench was badly outplayed by Orlando's reserves.

Stunning disappointment

Afterward, James put on headphones and stormed out of Amway Arena. He skipped the news conference and briskly walked down the corridor with two security guards as escorts. He plopped into a chair to be scanned for the team's charter plane ride, grabbed his bags and was gone - a special season ending in stunning disappointment.

Delonte West added 22 and Williams 17 for Cleveland, which went 0-5 in Orlando.

During the closing minutes, James was mocked by Orlando's crowd singing "M-V-P" as Howard shot free throws.

When the final horn sounded, James could only pull out his jersey and walk slowly off the floor, just as he did last year after losing Game Seven in Boston. As great as James was, this wasn't his season and once again Cleveland fans will feel nothing but heartache as they wait for a team to end the city's 45-year championship drought.

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