ORLANDO, Fla. – Superman swooped in just in time.
Dwight Howard scored 10 points in overtime and the Orlando Magic, raining down 3-pointers like a Florida thunderstorm, withstood 44 points and a last-second shot by LeBron James for a 116-114 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night to take a 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.
Howard finished with 27 points, 14 rebounds and again made his free throws – 7 of 9 – for the resilient Magic, who made a team record 17 3-pointers, 11 after halftime.
Orlando can earn its first trip to the NBA finals since 1995 with a win in Game 5 on Thursday night in Cleveland.
Rafer Alston added 26 points and Rashard Lewis and Mickael Pietrus had 17 each for the Magic.
James was spectacular again, adding 12 rebounds and seven assists, but he had eight turnovers for the Cavs, whose season of seasons is slipping away.
“I had to get myself going. My teammates found me in the right place to score and I kept scoring,” Howard said of his overtime effort that included three dunks, a tip-in and two free throws.
After Lewis made one of two free throws with 3.2 seconds left to give the Magic the 116-114 lead, the Cavs had one final chance.James, who saved the Cavaliers with a 3-pointer at the final horn in Game 2, got a shot off from 35 feet but it fell short.
Cleveland’s dream season may be next. James, who played the entire second half and OT, has scored more than 40 in three games in the series. Cleveland is 0-3 in them.
History is on the Magic’s side heading into Game 5. Teams with a 3-1 lead are 182-8 in series dating to 1947.