Magic Classic Wins: Game 6 of 2009 Eastern Conference Finals

Fox Sports Florida will broadcast this win on Saturday, May 30 at 7:30 p.m. ORLANDO - During the closing minutes of the Orlando Magic’s 103-90 defeat of the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 6 of the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals fans inside Amway Arena serenaded standout center Dwight Howard and mocked superstar forward LeBron James with…

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Fox Sports Florida will broadcast this win on Saturday, May 30 at 7:30 p.m.

ORLANDO – During the closing minutes of the Orlando Magic’s 103-90 defeat of the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 6 of the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals fans inside Amway Arena serenaded standout center Dwight Howard and mocked superstar forward LeBron James with chants of “M-V-P! M-V-P! M-V-P!’’

James actually won the NBA’s most prestigious individual award that season, while Howard finished a distant fourth in the voting. But in the Eastern Conference Finals showdown between the two superstars, Howard got the last laugh and his Magic earned a trip to the NBA Finals.

Riding the inside strength of Howard, who poured in 40 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, the Magic throttled James’ Cavs in Game 6 to punch their tickets to the NBA Finals. While much of the basketball world – and several Nike commercials – wanted a showdown between Kobe Bryant and James in the NBA Finals, they instead got a Magic team that crashed the party.

With the 2019-20 NBA season suspended in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe, Fox Sports Florida has used much of April and May to show select classic games from the Magic’s glorious, 31-year history. After showing Orlando’s defeats of Philadelphia and Boston in the first two rounds of the 2009 playoffs, Fox Sports Florida is re-airing Orlando’s six-game demolition of Cleveland in the East Finals this week. Magic wins in Game 1 (12:30 p.m.), Game 3 (2:30 p.m.) and Game 4 (5 p.m.) will be shown during the day on Saturday, while the clinching Game 6 will be televised at 7:30 p.m.

Despite being a prohibitive underdog, Orlando whipped top-seeded Cleveland 4-2 in an Eastern Conference Finals that was mostly one-sided despite the scoring brilliance of James. Throughout the playoffs, Nike repeatedly ran an advertising campaign touting a potential Finals showdown between James and Bryant of the Lakers. Instead, they got Howard and the Magic.

“For us as a team, we understand how everybody has talked about us for the last couple of years, but we feel like we can beat anybody,’’ said Howard, the first overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft who helped the Magic reach their first NBA Finals since 1995.

Added Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, who helped the Magic break an 11-year drought without a playoff series victory in 2008 and then reach the NBA Finals in 2009: “I don’t think people thought we could be at this level.’’

The Magic got to that level by dominating inside and outside throughout the six-game series. In addition to getting 25.8 points and 13 rebounds a night from Howard on the inside against Cleveland big men Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Anderson Varejao, the Magic shot 40.8 percent from beyond the 3-point arc by drilling 62 3-pointers in the series.

With golfer Tiger Woods and former University of Florida star quarterback Tim Tebow watching from courtside seats, that formula worked well for the Magic in the clinching Game 6. They led by five points at the end of the first quarter and by 18 at the half. With Howard dominating inside – he had 13 first-quarter points, 21 points by halftime and another 10 points in the third quarter – the Magic had plenty of room on the outside to bury 12 3-pointers.

Rashard Lewis, the hero of Game 1 with his winning 3-pointer in the final seconds, had 18 points, eight rebounds and three 3-pointers in Game 6. Sixth man specialist Mickael Pietrus had 14 points, five rebounds and four 3-pointers in 35 minutes, while point guard Rafer Alston chipped in 13 points and three 3-pointers.

In the six-game series, Lewis averaged 18.3 points per game while drilling 15 3-pointers. Pietrus, who keyed Orlando’s lopsided advantage in bench scoring throughout the series, averaged 13.8 points a game and made 17 of 36 shots from 3-point range. Alston, the replacement for Jameer Nelson at point guard, added 12.5 points a game and hit 14 3-pointers in the six games.

James had 25 points in Game 6 – his worst performance throughout the series. In the six games, James averaged 35.8 points, 8.3 rebounds and 8.0 assists while making 48.7 percent of his shots and 11 of 37 threes. However, he didn’t get nearly enough help from teammates like guard Mo Williams, who had “guaranteed’’ that Cleveland would win Game 4 and ultimately win the series. Williams shot just 37.1 percent from the floor in the series.

James and Howard, teammates on the 2008 Olympic gold-medal winning USA Basketball squad, had a somewhat contentious moment late in the clinching Game 6. As James appeared headed toward Howard to congratulate him on the series victory, the Magic center playfully launched a 3-point shot that missed just before the final buzzer. A steamed James then headed toward the locker room, choosing not to shake hands with the Magic’s players.

“It’s not the last time we’ll see each other on this platform,’’ said James, of potentially facing off against Howard in the playoffs in the years to come.

As it turns out, James left Cleveland for Miami following the 2009-10 season and Howard forced a trade to the Los Angeles Lakers after the 2011-12 season and the two of them – currently teammates on the Lakers – have never squared off in the playoffs again.

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Orlando Magic. All opinions expressed by John Denton are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Orlando Magic or their Basketball Operations staff, partners or sponsors.









6:30 PM

Magic at Cavs (2009 Game 1)

Sat, May 30 at 12:30 PM



8:30 PM

Magic vs. Cavs (2009 Game 3)

Sat, May 30 at 2:30 PM



8 PM

Magic vs Cavs (2009 Game 4)

Sat, May 30 at 5 PM



7:30 PM

Magic vs. Cavs (2009 Game 6)

Sun, May 31 at 6:30 PM

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