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Cavs right selves vs. Magic
Published March 9, 2005
CLEVELAND - LeBron James scored 23 and Drew Gooden also had 23 in his return to the starting lineup as the Cavaliers snapped a six-game losing streak with a 111-92 win over the Orlando Magic on Tuesday night.
Cheered on by R&B superstar Usher, one of their new owners, the Cavs won for the first time since Feb. 23. Cleveland's longest skid this season had dropped it back far enough that some began to wonder if the Cavs were playoff worthy.
James made sure the Cavaliers got back on track, adding eight assists and seven rebounds in 40 minutes. Gooden shot 10-of-13 from the field and added five rebounds and five assists.
Gooden's inconsistency had prompted coach Paul Silas to replace him for two games as a starter by Robert Traylor. The benching seemed to awaken Gooden, who had one of his best all-around games this season against the team that traded him last summer.
Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 18 points and Jeff McInnis 13 and eight assists for Cleveland.
Steve Francis scored 21 and rookie Jameer Nelson 17 for Orlando, which had its win streak stopped at three.
Sparked by the return of rookie forward Anderson Varejao, the Cavs came out with more energy than they'd shown in weeks. They took control in the third quarter, outscoring the Magic 31-18.
Cleveland put it away in the fourth with Varejao's layup capping a 6-0 run that made it 90-68 with 9:03 left. James, Gooden and Cleveland's other starters were pulled with 5:45 left and the Cavs up by 20.
HILL SIDELINED: Magic forward Grant Hill missed the game with a bruised left shin and is expected to sit out tonight's game at Toronto.
Hill was kicked a week ago during a win against the Kings. Coach Johnny Davis said the injury is not related to the numerous left ankle problems that sidelined Hill for all but 47 games the previous four seasons.
"With anyone else, you would just tape it up a little tighter and go," Davis said. "With Grant, we're just being cautious. You don't want him favoring it, which could throw him out of balance and potentially cause a problem.
"We have to give him time to get it right. There is some trepidation because it's the same leg."