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Buzzer-beater by LeBron James lifts Cleveland Cavaliers past Orlando Magic in Game 2 of Eastern Conference final

LeBron James shoots the winning 3-pointer over Hedo Turkoglu, who had given Orlando a 95-93 lead with one second left.

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LeBron James shoots the winning 3-pointer over Hedo Turkoglu, who had given Orlando a 95-93 lead with one second left.

CLEVELAND — The Cavaliers needed a miracle. LeBron James delivered.

James made a fadeaway 3-pointer over Orlando's Hedo Turkoglu as the final horn sounded Friday night to give Cleveland, its season a heartbeat from major trouble, a 96-95 victory over the Magic that evened the Eastern Conference final at one apiece.

Taking the inbounds pass from Mo Williams, James only had time to turn his shoulders toward the rim and fire. As the shot dropped in from 23 feet — matching his jersey number — James sprinted into the arms of his teammates as 20,562 stunned fans hugged in disbelief.

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

Turkoglu hit a 12-footer in the lane to give the Magic, which overcame a 23-point deficit in the first half, a 95-93 lead with one second left. Cleveland called a timeout and set up a play for James, the league MVP who scored 35.

"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."

Rashard Lewis scored 23 and Turkoglu had 21 for the Magic. Dwight Howard scored 10 — 20 below his Game 1 performance — and added 18 rebounds.

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

"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."

ORLANDO (95): Turkoglu 9-17 1-2 21, Lewis 6-15 7-9 23, Howard 3-8 4-8 10, Alston 1-7 2-2 4, Lee 4-9 2-2 11, Johnson 2-4 1-2 5, Pietrus 4-5 0-0 10, Redick 3-4 0-0 7, Gortat 2-2 0-0 4, Battie 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 34-71 17-25 95.

CLEVELAND (96): James 12-23 10-12 35, Varejao 2-5 0-1 4, Ilgauskas 5-13 2-2 12, M.Williams 7-21 4-5 19, West 4-7 3-3 12, Smith 1-1 2-2 5, Pavlovic 4-7 0-1 9, Wallace 0-0 0-0 0, Gibson 0-0 0-0 0, Kinsey 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 35-77 21-26 96.

Orlando 16 28 25 26— 95

Cleveland 30 26 19 21— 96

3-Point GoalsOrlando 10-23 (Lewis 4-7, Pietrus 2-3, Turkoglu 2-4, Redick 1-2, Lee 1-3, Johnson 0-1, Alston 0-3), Cleveland 5-19 (Smith 1-1, James 1-3, Pavlovic 1-3, West 1-4, M.Williams 1-6, Ilgauskas 0-2). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsOrlando 43 (Howard 18), Cleveland 49 (Ilgauskas 15). AssistsOrlando 16 (Johnson, Howard, Turkoglu 4), Cleveland 17 (James, M.Williams 5). Total FoulsOrlando 25, Cleveland 24. TechnicalsGortat. A20,562 (20,562).

Nuggets, Lakers rue squandered chances

DENVER — The Nuggets left Los Angeles with homecourt advantage in the Western Conference final. But they didn't exactly skip happily home. They're too busy kicking themselves.

The Nuggets thought they should have taken a 2-0 lead back to Denver.

"We played hard, but we didn't play smart," Kenyon Martin said. "So I feel if we would've (done) that like we did (Thursday) night it would've been a different outcome in Game 1." Game 3 is tonight at the Pepsi Center.

The Lakers feel they, too, should be heading to Denver halfway to winning the best-of-7 series.

"A bounce of the ball here and we're up 2-0," Kobe Bryant said. "A bounce of the ball here and they win Game 1."

BOBCATS: The league confirmed that Bob Johnson is exploring a sale. Johnson is using a New York sports financial services firm to seek additional investors. The founder of Black Entertainment Television could sell to Michael Jordan, who bought a minority stake in 2006. Jordan said in February that he'd be interested in someday getting majority control, and he will take a serious look at buying controlling interest, the Charlotte Observer reported.

MAVERICKS: Dirk Nowitzki's lawyer, Robert Hart, told that he doubts a woman's claim that she is pregnant with the star's baby. Christa Ann Taylor, 37, told the Dallas Morning News in an interview from jail that Nowitzki was her fiance and that she learned she was pregnant after she was arrested at his house on a probation violation and theft of services warrants.

SIXERS: The Associated Press reported that Chris Ford interviewed for the coaching job.

Lakers 1, Nuggets 1
Game 1 Lakers 105, Nuggets 103
Game 2 Nuggets 106, Lakers 103
Tonight at Denver, 8:30, Ch. 28
Monday at Denver, 9, ESPN
Wed. at Los Angeles, 9, ESPN
May 29 at Denver, 9, ESPN*
May 31 at L.A., 8:30, Ch. 28*

Magic 1, Cavaliers 1
Game 1 Magic 107, Cavaliers 106
Friday Cavaliers 96, Magic 95
Sunday at Orlando, 8:30, TNT
Tuesday at Orlando, 8:30, TNT
Thursday at Cleveland, 8:30, TNT
May 30 at Orlando, 8:30, TNT*
June 1 at Cleveland, 8:30, TNT*

* if necessary

Cavaliers 96

Magic 95

Buzzer-beater by LeBron James lifts Cleveland Cavaliers past Orlando Magic in Game 2 of Eastern Conference final 05/23/09 [Last modified: Saturday, May 23, 2009 12:33am]
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