Speed Read: Magic Ready To Ruin Dream Finals

Somehow LeBron James ended another game against the Orlando Magic in their Eastern Conference Finals with the ball in his hand and a chance to win the game. But unlike Game 2, he couldn’t find the miracle the Cavaliers needed, as his desperation heave from 35 feet was off the mark, wrapping up the Magic’s 116-114 OT victory. Orlando now holds a commanding 3-1 series lead, as the Cavaliers are threatening to take a page from the Ohio State football team and choke at the worst possible moment.

LeBron James

And perhaps it was fitting, since the game only went to overtime on two James free throws on a questionable foul committed by Mickael Pietrus with six seconds left - with James needing a friendly roll to get the second. (And honestly, how can the best player on the planet be so average and unreliable from the free throw line? Do you ever remember feeling nervous when Michael Jordan stepped to the line at the end of a game?)

Dwight Howard

It’s hard to blame James for Game 4: after all, he did have 44 points and 12 rebounds. Even the eight turnovers in the box score are more a reflection of him trying to do everything because he had to than any faults. No, the big problem for Cleveland is that they’ve pretty much turned back into King James and His Inept Court of Jokers this series, with his supporting cast basically providing nothing (Delonte West and Mo Williams combined to go 12-for-30 in Game 4, including 0-for-6 from behind the arc.)

Meanwhile, the Magic were unconscious from three-point range, going 17-for-38, with Rafer Alston leading the way with six threes on the way to a 26 point night. And Dwight Howard played angry in overtime - perhaps over picking up his sixth technical foul of the season, or because he thought he was fouled at the end of regulation. No matter what the reason, he took it out on the Cavaliers, scored on three straight dunks en route to 10 points in the extra session. So a dominant big man plus great outside shooting is a good thing, I guess.

Sidney Crosby

Also a good thing: having your league’s best player and leading scorer on the same team. That’s exactly what the Pittsburgh Penguins have, and why they are heading back to the Stanley Cup after a 4-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes to sweep the Eastern Conference Finals. And even though they didn’t score in the series-clincher, Penguins stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin had done more than enough, proving to be way too much for a game but overmatched Carolina side. So while the NBA is wincing at losing their dream match-up, the NHL has to be thrilled with a likely Penguins vs. Red Wings rematch.

Mike Tyson

Finally, to update a tragic story we told you about earlier today, KPHO-TV in Phoenix reports that Mike Tyson’s daughter Exodus, 4, has died from injuries she sustained in a freak accident at her family home in Arizona. No matter what you think about Mike Tyson as a person, monster or character in a classic Greek tragedy, your heart has to go out to him and his family. For anyone with a child, reading about this gets your stomach all tied up in knots.

  • So after what PRO FOOTBALL TALK had reported was a tug-of-war to sign John Lynch as an NFL analyst, NEWSDAY says that the winner is Fox, snatching the former Buccaneers and Broncos standout from ESPN. Lynch will likely be replacing Brian Baldinger, which means that he’ll need to have his finger run over with a steamroller to match the “analyst with the gross digit” quota at the network.
  • Brian Baldinger and his gross finger

  • Is this a sign that the Anquan Boldin contract mess is about to come to an end?: ESPN.COM says that the disgruntled Cardinals wide receiver has fired Drew Rosenhaus as his agent. Stepping in? This guy.
  • Ready for a career switch to the exciting and fast-paced world of sports business? Fat chance, says the NEW YORK TIMES, as tough economic times have made jobs in the industry tougher to get than ever. In fact, it’s so bad that people actually want to work for the Cincinnati Bengals.
  • A new blog is asking people to vote Manny Ramirez into the 2009 All-Star Game to prove a point about how ridiculous MLB’s stance is on steroids. I say let’s really send a message and vote Jose Guillen in.
  • A STERN WARNING digs up an old Japanese tire commercial featuring Dennis Rodman, and it’s every bit as weird and indecipherable as anything you would expect involving Japanese TV and The Worm. But at least there weren’t any midgets involved:

  • As the BOSTON HERALD says, this is how bad it’s gotten for David Ortiz: last night against the Twins, he was dropped to the No. 6 spot in the line-up for the first time in more than five years. Not that it mattered; thanks to another lousy start by Jon Lester, Boston fell to Minnesota 5-2.
  • Top Orioles prospect Matt Wieters is getting his call-up to the big leagues, and is expected to make his big-league debut as a catcher on Friday against the Tigers. CAN’T STOP THE BLEEDING wonders if the Baltimore sports media is making too big of a deal about this. (i.e. could Peter Schmuck please remove his tongue from Wieters’ mouth?)
  • The NEW YORK TIMES has the latest from Roland Garros (English translation: Ron Garrett) Stadium and the French Open: Serena Williams serves a “horrendous” performance, while James Blake is bounced yet again.
  • Just how dominant has Zack Greinke been this season for the Royals? As the KANSAS CITY STAR reports, he gave up one earned run in his fifth complete game of the season, a 6-1 win over the Tigers…and his ERA actually went up slightly, “ballooning” to 0.84.
  • Probably not what Marshall wanted to hear about their prized football recruit A.J. Graham: the TALLAHASSE DEMOCRAT says that Florida’s “Mr. Football” was arrested on robbery charges - just hours before his scheduled high school graduation.

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Retiring John Lynch Set To Go Both Ways

John Lynch, who the CDC labels as the number one cause of Alligator Arms, is calling it quits after 15 seasons in the NFL, but he doesn’t want to retire as a Patriot. Can you blame him? Instead he’ll retire as a Buccaneer. And as a Bronco. Huh?

John Lynch

Of course Lynch is most identified with Tampa Bay, and will go into Canton as a Buc. But he’s apparently also proud of the four years of unexceptional football he played in Denver, so his official retirement will be commemorated on Monday, with Bucs and Broncos representatives in attendance. Because they won the coin toss, Tampa will host the ceremony.

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Patriots Sign Lynch, Create Dirty Safety Tandem

According to THE BOSTON GLOBE, The New England Patriots signed John Lynch today, two weeks after the nine-time Pro Bowl safety was given his release from the Denver Broncos. Lynch is being brought in to fill the void left after projected starter Tank Williams went down for the year following a knee injury suffered in the Pats’ first preseason game. But it’s also a move that seems to be counter to the Patriots’ stated desire to get faster and quicker on defense.

John Lynch

So why bring Lynch in? In my mind, it’s simple: Bill Belichick couldn’t resist fielding the safety combination of Lynch and Rodney Harrison, who was named “dirtiest player in the NFL” in a poll of league coaches done by ESPN.COM last year. Add that to Lynch’s $75,000 fine for leveling Dallas Clark back in 2005, and Belichick might have just put the most vicious, head-hunting, dirtiest, cheap-shottingest safety combination on the field in the NFL since Chuck Cecil, and, well, whichever safety played opposite Chuck Cecil with the Cardinals.

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