ORLANDO, Fla. - Dwight Howard dominated inside for 40 points, and the Orlando Magic, who can make three-pointers drop from thin air, hit 12 last night in a 103-90 victory that eliminated LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals.
"Total domination," said Orlando's Rashard Lewis (18 points) of Howard. "He totally dominated the game. He carried us on his back tonight."
The Magic will make their first finals appearance since 1995, one year before Shaquille O'Neal bolted as a free agent for Los Angeles.
It's been a long, slow climb back, but Orlando has been rebuilt and will meet the Lakers on Thursday night at the Staples Center in Game 1.
Disney World vs. Disneyland.
Oh, and memo to Nike executives: It's time to break out the Howard puppet. LeBron's can go in summer storage.
Orlando made believers of all those who wondered if they were better than the Cavaliers, who won 66 games in the regular season, or the defending champion Boston Celtics.
The Magic beat both in the postseason.
James scored 25 in his worst game of the series, but the 24-year-old was magnificent for most of it, adding to a legacy still in its infancy. But the league MVP had to do most of it alone, as Mo Williams lost his shooting touch and Cleveland's bench was badly outplayed by Orlando's reserves.
Delonte West added 22 and Williams 17 for Cleveland, which went 0-5 in Orlando.
During the closing minutes, James was mocked by Orlando's crowd singing "M-V-P" as Howard shot free throws.
And after Superman muscled underneath for a thunderous dunk with 2:21 left, the crowd moved into finals mode chanting, "Beat L.A.!"
Howard's one flaw has been his free-throw shooting, but he made 12 of 16 in Game 6.
The Magic's season has not been without its share of turmoil. Former St. Joe's star Jameer Nelson sustained a season-ending shoulder injury in February, a setback that at the time seemed as if it would prevent Orlando from doing anything special this year.