You expected someone else?
James scored 19 points in the fourth quarter -- one more than Orlando -- and finished with 32, pushing him over 7,000 in his NBA career and carrying Cleveland to an 86-83 win over the Orlando Magic on Saturday night.
James made seven of his first eight shots in the final 12 minutes, and in one stretch scored 13 straight points, to help the Cavaliers snap a three-game losing streak and get revenge on the Magic, who beat Cleveland last week in Florida.
"That's why he's LeBron James," Magic guard Jameer Nelson said. "He wouldn't be who he is if he didn't take over."
Orlando led 73-72 lead with 4:32 left on a basket by Trevor Ariza when James, who seemed irritated by Cleveland's sluggish offense earlier, made the game his own.
First, he dropped a 3-pointer to give Cleveland a lead it would never give back. James made two more jumpers and a driving layup with 2:00 left to make it 81-77. Then, he drained a long 3-pointer from the right side with 29.2 seconds to go, giving the Cavaliers an 84-77 lead and a sellout crowd of 20,562 another night to remember.
James singlehandedly outscored the Magic 19-18 in the fourth.
"There came a time where I had to see if my hand was hot," he said. "I got it going."
Zydrunas Ilgauskas added a season-high 22 points and Drew Gooden had 14 points and 12 rebounds for Cleveland, which has been inconsistent most of the season. In their previous four games, the Caves had scored 106 points, 74, 111 and 71.
"I never thought about us losing three games in a row," James said. "I thought about us possibly losing and not playing again until Wednesday and spending Christmas with a loss. You want to spend the holiday on a good note."
Goodness, who spent 1½ seasons with Orlando before being traded to Cleveland, scored just two points in the first half. But he scored 12 in the third period, including 10 in a 14-4 spurt that put the Caves up 60-54.
However, Orlando responded with an 11-2 run to take a 65-62 lead after three.
After the quarter ended, James spent a few minutes in the huddle with Cleveland coach Mike Brown and his assistants before joining his teammates on the bench. He was clearly upset, and during a timeout early in the fourth, James again approached Brown for a brief discussion.
"I was just trying to figure things out to see how we could get it going on the offensive end," said James, who insisted he wasn't frustrated. "Our offense is killing us right now. In the past it had been our defense. We've never had problems on offense like we're having, but we finally figured it out tonight."
James went 8-of-10 from the floor in the final period, and one of those misses rimmed out.
"We saw the LeBron we saw a lot last year," Brown said. "It was good to see him put us on his back and will this win for us. He's a guy when he puts his mind to it, he's going to win balsams for us."
Ilgauskas has rarely been an offensive option for Cleveland's offense this season, and the 7-foot-3 center didn't attempt a shot in the fourth quarter of Thursday night's loss to the Detroit.
But he planted himself on the lower block in the first half and the Cavs fed him the ball. By halftime, Ilgauskas had matched his season-high in points with 18 while attempting 15 shots - two below his high.
- It was the 99th time James, who will turn 22 next week, has scored 30 points or more.
- Before the game, James thought he knew how to get the Cavs out of their offensive funk. "We've just got to get back to playing basketball, and not worry about all the Xs and Os," he said. "We score 100 points in games and 70 in others. It doesn't make sense."
- If he hangs on, the 21-year-old Howard could become the youngest player to lead the league in rebounding. Dolph Schayes was 22 when he averaged 16.4 rebounds in 1950-51 for Syracuse.
- Orlando dropped to 5-1 on Saturdays.
- Magic F Hedo Turkoglu was inactive with a sprained right ankle.
- Nelson played despite a deep thigh bruise.
- Cleveland has won six straight at home over Orlando.