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Orlando ends its home skid

Maybe the Miracle should ask the league for special compensation that will allow it to play each game's final 10 minutes at home.

That is when the Miracle has been at its best.

Having lost a five-point halftime lead and facing another crushing loss at home, the Miracle rallied late to earn a 70-62 victory Wednesday night over Cleveland in front of 9,099 at the Orlando Arena, snapping a three-game skid.

Orlando's win also ended a four-game losing streak at home. In its last home game against New York, the Miracle rallied in the final five minutes to tie it only to lose in overtime. Wednesday night's victory was just its fifth win in 12 home games.

"I'm proud of this team," Miracle coach Carolyn Peck said. "We got the monkey off our back at home. We have disappointed our fans at home as of late."

And it almost did it again.

The Miracle led 30-25 at halftime, thanks in part to its tenacious full-court press and abysmal shooting by the Rockers.

But without a roster, it would have been tough to tell if the same Cleveland team that went into the locker room was the same one that came out.

After shooting 31 percent in the first half, the Rockers did a 180-degree turnaround.

The Rockers opened the second half with a bigger lineup and slowly chipped away at the Miracle's lead with driving layups and a few outside shots.

Trailing 39-34, the Rockers went on a 14-4 run to take a 48-43 lead with 9:13 left.

With a little more than seven minutes left, the Rockers were 13-of-16 from the field in the second half and had a 52-45 lead.

But with the game slipping away as it had so many times at the O-Rena, the Miracle rebounded. Sheri Sam, who was scoreless in the Miracle's last home game against New York, opened a run with a 6-foot jumper. She was fouled and missed the free throw, but Nykesha Sales (15 points, three rebounds) grabbed the rebound and scored to pull the Miracle within four.

The Miracle enjoyed an 11-0 run over a two-minute span for a 56-52 lead.

"We took a few chances defensively," Peck said. "We lost our intensity for a short amount of time, but we recognized that and just really stepped up and played."

Eva Nemcova's (12 points) three-point basket with 4:05 left pulled the Rockers to within 59-57, but that was as close as they would get. Trailing by four with 1:11 left, Taj McWilliams (16 points, nine rebounds) blocked what would have been a sure layup for Nemcova.

Orlando went to the free-throw line 35 times, hitting 26. The Miracle was 12-of-14 from the line during the final five minutes.

"It was very frustrating," Cleveland coach Linda Hill-MacDonald said. "We outshot them from the field, we outrebounded. We only had 14 turnovers. They got to the free-throw line more than we did (35-18) and that's the game right there, from the free-throw line."

_ Information from other news organizations was used in this report.

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