CLEVELAND - You can relax now, Cleveland fans.You don't have "The Shot" hanging over your heads anymore. LeBron James just replaced Michael Jordan's infamous shot over Craig Ehlo to knock the Cavs out of the 1989 playoffs as the biggest in Cleveland history.
The scoreboard didn't change for two minutes or more after the shot went in, but the crowd never had a doubt. The raucous ovation had only barely subsided when it became official, then the fans went right back to outright frenzy.
They deserve it. Cleveland sports fans have been through plenty. Jordan's shot. "The Drive" by John Elway that cost the Browns the AFC championship game in 1987. "The Fumble" that cost them the AFC championship the following year. (Not to mention the Browns moving.) The Indians losing the 1997 World Series to the upstart Florida Marlins.
Now they have a signature moment. And LeBron has a signature shot that should live with him forever.
Granted, that could change if the Cavs were to lose the series 4-1, but it sure doesn't look like James is going to let that happen.
Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy took the blame for the series being tied now.
"We should have defended (the final play) differently," he said. "It's crushing enough to lose as a coach, but when you're the guy who could've made the difference, it hurts a lot more."
As for Turkoglu, Ehlo to LeBron's Jordan, he had a more defiant reaction.
"They make a last-second shot and seeing them celebrating, it means we are in their heads," he said. "I guarantee it's going to be a ballgame difference when we go back to Orlando in front of our home-court fans."
"They're not in our head at all," LeBron said when told of Turkoglu's comments.
James and the Cavaliers obviously took that Game 1 loss to heart. Gone is that fun-loving, freewheeling team we saw run over the Pistons and Hawks to open the playoffs.
In its place was a team that looked downright angry Friday night. And in the end, they were even desperate.
Much like Game 1, they jumped out to a big lead 30-16 in the first quarter, 43-20 in the second quarter and 56-44 at the half. And much like Game 1, they let the Magic claw their way back. And elbow. And push and shove.
Five minutes into the fourth, Courtney Lee hit a driving shot to tie the game at 82-all. And then it got really ugly.
While the Cavs and Magic traded shots the rest of the way, they also traded plenty of shoves and lots of hard contact. Bodies were hitting the floor on nearly every possession, and not surprisingly a lot of them were Cavs bodies diving, taking charges, wrestling for loose balls.
James the reigning MVP took one of the hardest hits, getting checked in midair by Mickael Pietrus while trying to catch a lob. After crashing to the floor behind the baseline, he missed his follow-up shot and Turkoglu nailed a 3-pointer at the other end to tie it again at 93 with just over a minute left.
A Mo Williams miss and a traveling call on LeBron later and the Cavs were in dire straits. The Magic had the ball with under 30 seconds left and all the momentum.
Turkoglu isolated Pavlovic, drove toward the middle and drilled a pull-up jumper for a two-point lead and just one second remaining. After an ugly start, Turkoglu had 21 points and his own little piece of Cleveland fans' hearts.
But those hearts all belong to LeBron now. Turkoglu can't have them.
Jordan and Elway can't hurt them anymore, either.
Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 23, 2009