LeBron scores 26 for Cavs; Darko gets 2 in Magic debut

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Last season's second-half collapse by Cleveland is still fresh in LeBron James' mind.

The All-Star Game MVP is determined not to let it happen again.

James hit only four of his first 17 shots but finished with 26 points to lead Cleveland to a 105-92 victory over the Orlando Magic on Tuesday night -- moving the Cavaliers 11 games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 1997-98 season.

"This is a great way to come out of the break," James said. "It is very important to not have another lapse."

A year ago, the Cavaliers also won their first game after the All-Star break -- then lost six in a row, went on a 9-19 tailspin, and missed the playoffs by one game.

Orlando is in a worse decline now. Dwight Howard had 23 points and 14 rebounds for the Magic, who lost their seventh straight and 11th of 12. Orlando plays six of its next eight on the road.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas had 24 points and 13 rebounds, Sasha Pavlovic a career-high 21 points and Drew Gooden 15 points and 11 rebounds for Cleveland.

But it was James who keyed Cleveland's third straight win. He hit six consecutive shots late until missing a meaningless attempt in the final seconds.

"Drew was huge and 'Z' had a great game," Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said. "Then the Magic made a run and we gave the ball to our guy, our MVP, and he closed the deal."

Orlando cut an 18-point deficit to 97-90 with 2:45 remaining.

James responded with six straight points in 1:16 to make it 103-90.

"He made three tough shots and that's what great players do -- make great plays when the game is on the line," Magic guard Steve Francis said.

Two days after becoming the youngest All-Star game MVP in history, James brought the sellout crowd of 20,562 to its feet with several dazzling behind-the-back passes and one 45-foot shot that went in but didn't count.

Fans chanted "M-V-P, M-V-P," midway through the third quarter when they thought their hero was robbed of a 3-pointer from near midcourt.

With Magic forward Hedo Turkoglu lying injured along the baseline, Orlando players went to foul James to stop the clock. James, one step over the midcourt line, banked in a shot officials ruled off, not allowing the continuation play.

Turkoglu sprained his left ankle. X-rays were negative. He will have an MRI exam Wednesday and is doubtful for the Magic's game in New Jersey.

Francis, the key figure in a rumored multiplayer trade with the New York Knicks, scored 13 points in 27 minutes.

"I don't know anything about trades right now," Magic coach Brian Hill said. "It's all talk, there's nothing that I'm aware of that we have on the table."

Francis is aware of the speculation that cropped up after he was suspended two games last month for refusing to re-enter a blowout loss.

"They've been speculating for a long time," he said. "If it happens, it happens. I can't control it. I have to go out and play every night."

Hill said Darko Milicic, the No. 2 pick behind James in the 2003
draft acquired Feb. 15 with guard Carlos Arroyo from Detroit, will
be given an opportunity to play -- but only after the third-year center learns the system.

Milicic had two points in four minutes and Arroyo was scoreless in five minutes.

"I'm happy to get another chance to play, to see what I can do," Milicic said. "In Detroit, it was horrible for me. A nightmare."

James had three shots rattle in and out early but still made an impact in the first half. In a 20-second span, he threw a crisp pass that Pavlovic turned into a 3-pointer, stole the ball near midcourt and went in for a breakaway reverse slam. That sparked Cleveland on an 8-0 run for a 44-34 lead.

Game notes
Cleveland has won six straight and seven of the last eight meetings with the Magic. ... All fans got wild red curly wigs resembling the hairstyle of Cavs F Anderson Varejao and were
encouraged to wear them. ... Varejao had two points in nine minutes. ... Francis shot 3-for-6 and is just 22-for-66 over his
last six games. ... Orlando's bench held a 31-12 scoring margin.
... No Cavs reserve scored until Donyell Marshall hit a 3-pointer
with 2:39 left in the third quarter. ... Howard's double-double was
his 40th this season.