CLEVELAND - If it had been LeBron James tying up Hedo Turkoglu while getting a little bit of hand and wrist, there would have been no questioning the call.
But it was Turkoglu, a decent eighth-year pro from Turkey, tying up James, one of the most promoted players in the superstar-driven NBA.
And still there was no foul call as the Orlando Magic held on to defeat the Cavaliers 117-116 in overtime Wednesday night at sold-out Quicken Loans Arena.
"There`s always a time when you feel like you should get a call," said James, who finished with 39 points, 13 rebounds and 14 assists. "I don`t harp on that."
After taking an inbounds pass with 5.8 seconds to go in OT and the Cavs down one, James dribbled left and into the key against Keith Bogans. With James holding the ball near his waist just inside the foul line, Turkoglu came over to double-team and put both hands on the ball.
For a split second, no call was made. Then official Leon Wood, who probably had the worst angle of the three referees on the floor, signaled jump ball. With just 0.7 seconds on the clock, the game was over when the ensuing jump ball was harmlessly tipped to the side.
"You`d hope LeBron James driving to the hole would get something," Cavs coach Mike Brown said. "I wasn`t out there. I didn`t have a whistle in my mouth. They have to make the call."
Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy, naturally, saw the extremely close play a bit differently.
"Which call didn`t he get?" Van Gundy said. "I didn`t see too many that LeBron didn`t get. You`ve got to put together the film of calls that LeBron doesn`t get for me. That`s a jump ball. I didn`t see anything but â€˜Turk` grabbing the ball."
After initially taking the politically correct approach in his postgame interview and saying he had not seen a replay, Brown switched gears and hinted James should have gone to the line.
"He did the right thing," the coach said. "He drove the basketball. He was driving for a layup or he was driving to get fouled. -- With the speed and athleticism he has, when he drives in there, it`s almost impossible to stop him or not foul him without him getting a shot off. Somehow, some way, they did it."
There was no question Drew Gooden fouled Orlando center Dwight Howard (35 points, 16 rebounds, 4 blocks) on the play that led to what proved to be the game-winning points.
With the Magic (7-2) inbounding in front of the Cleveland (4-5) bench with 6.5 seconds to go, Turkoglu was able to get the ball straight to Howard deep in the post, where Gooden wrapped up the 6-foot-11, 265-pounder before he could throw down his seventh dunk of the night.
Howard made both free throws as Orlando improved to 5-0 on the road and ruined the Cavs` homecoming after a six-game road trip.
"There`s nobody on our front line, nobody in the arena, that can stop him from getting the ball," James said of Howard, who began the night averaging 20.3 points and 14.4 boards.
Said Brown: "He`s a man. When he puts his head down and kind of bulls his way around, it makes it tough."
The Magic also got 21 points, seven rebounds and 11 assists from point guard Jameer Nelson, and 20 points from undersized power forward Rashard Lewis.
The Cavs got 23 points and 12 boards from Gooden, 18 points and 11 rebounds from Zydrunas Ilgauskas and 16 points from Daniel Gibson, who was 5-of-5 from the field, including 4-of-4 from beyond the arc.
Problem was, Gibson didn`t get enough shots and Larry Hughes (2-of-12), who started 0-of-8 and was repeatedly booed, shot too much. Hughes eventually exited after aggravating his bruised left leg. Given his injury history, it wouldn`t be surprising if he missed some more action.
Damon Jones, who struggled through a 1-of-5 night, also went to the locker room with a lower back strain, but Brown still managed to make one highly questionable substitution with the few players he had left.
With the Cavs down 105-103 late in regulation, Mike Brown put Devin Brown, who was 1-of-5 from the field at the time, into the game for Sasha Pavlovic, who was 4-of-7. Devin Brown immediately made a turnover that let to a Nelson layup and a four-point Magic lead.
Cleveland got new life, however, when Bogans and Howard combined to go 1-of-4 at the line in the final 16.3 seconds. That allowed James to tie the game by making three free throws after Turkoglu fouled him behind the arc with 2.4 ticks on the clock. Turkoglu was trying to foul James before he got into the act of shooting, but was unsuccessful.
"That was a good call," Van Gundy said.
Whether the one at the end of overtime was correct depends on whom you ask, but it appeared to lead to a fan taking a swing at Wood as the official approached the tunnel that leads from the arena floor.
"(Turkoglu) had some of the ball, but he had part of my arm also," James said. "Once I got into the lane, it was my intent to shoot. Once I felt a little contact, I was trying to get the shot up, but it didn`t go our way."
Said Turkoglu: "I had to help out and make somebody else make the shot. I was just in the right place at the right time."
The last player to have as many points, rebounds and assists as James did Wednesday was Wilt Chamberlain, who had 53 points, 32 rebounds and 14 assists for Philadelphia on March 18, 1968.
** James` 39 points were also the most ever scored by a Cleveland player against Orlando. Gerald Wilkins had 38 on Jan. 12, 1994.
** Howard`s 35 points tied a career high.
** Hughes is now shooting .293 from the field this season (17-of-58).
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.