After rallying from a 13-point first half deficit, the Orlando Magic fell apart in the fourth quarter and were defeated by the Miami Heat 91-81.
Dwight Howard had 18 points and 11 rebounds while Dwyane Wade led all scorers with 31 points and Chris Bosh added 23 points.
The Magic got off to a terrible start. In the first quarter, Orlando wound up with 22 points, but shot just 7-of-20 from the field while Miami was nearly unstoppable. They scored 31 points in the quarter and hit 12 of their first 15 shots. After pushing the lead to 35-22, the Heat began to cool off in the second quarter. The Magic scored 25 of the game’s next 37 points to tie the game before Dwyane Wade’s three-point play gave the Heat a three-point halftime lead. After the Heat scored the first basket of the second half, Orlando used a 10-2 run to take a three-point lead, but they could never stretch the lead due to poor shooting and sloppy play. Miami led by four going into the fourth quarter and the Magic simply fell apart. Orlando had seven turnovers in the fourth quarter and 20 for the game. Quentin Richardson cut the lead to two with just over eight minutes to go, but that’s when Wade took over. Orlando kept throwing up threes, albeit several open threes, instead of going through Howard and the Heat continued to build their lead, pushing it to 12, essentially finishing the Magic off.
Dwight Howard had a rough night. He started the game by missing five of his first six shots and just didn’t look comfortable early on. Howard appeared to settle down and get into a groove for a while – he went baseline and finished a couple of times and really had his face-up game going. However, his touch didn’t last throughout the game. Howard finished with 18 points on just 7-of-17 shooting, a very inefficient game, especially by Howard’s standards. He also pulled down 11 rebounds, more than four less than his average.
Quentin Richardson, who is usually inserted into the game to guard and frustrate LeBron James, did a decent job of that and had one of the best offensive nights of his Magic career. Richardson scored 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting (5-of-7 from three) and helped keep the Magic within striking distance in the fourth quarter when he went 3-of-5 from deep.
Ryan Anderson really struggled in the early going trying to guard Chris Bosh. The Heat continued to go to Bosh early in the game and they built their nine-point first quarter lead behind Bosh’s 12 points in the opening quarter. The Magic did a better job on Bosh as the game progressed. Actually, the entire Magic defense got much better as the game went on. After giving up those 31 points in the first quarter, the Heat scored just 60 the rest of the game and after making 12 of their first 15 shots, the Heat went just 22-of-59 from the field the rest of the way. The Heat missed a few shots they’d normally hit, but for the most part the Magic froced them into difficult shots, which is really the only way to slow the Heat.
- Orlando potentially has three big advantages against Miami – Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson (potentially) and their ability to knock down three-pointers.
- Nelson didn’t keep up his recent stretch of efficient play. He scored 13 points and dished out six assists, but it took him 14 shots to get those 13 points and he turned the ball over three times.
- The Magic were just 9-of-25 from beyond the arc, a number that has to be bigger when you turn the ball over 20 times.
- Dwyane Wade went all Dwyane Wade as he usually does against the Magic. The superstar guard was great, especially in the game’s final quarter – he finished with 31 points, six rebounds and four assists.
- LeBron James was off throughout the night, scoring just 14 points on 4-of-14 shooting and turning the ball over four times. However, he still grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds, dished out seven assists and recorded five steals.
Next Up: The Magic will return home to host the Chicago Bulls Monday night.
Final thought: This didn’t help the “making a run” comments, but the Magic have a chance to again prove themselves against the current top seed in the east Monday night.
(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, ESPN Florida’s Magic Insider (http://ESPNFlorida.com) and is the co-host of the ESPNFlorida.com Insiders Show Sunday mornings at 10:00 am EST. Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Facebook and follow him onTwitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here)
Topics: Chris Bosh, Chris Duhon, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade, Erik Spoelstra, Glen Davis, Hedo Turkoglu, Ish Smith, J.j. Redick, Jameer Nelson, Jason Richardson, Larry Hughes, LeBron James, Miami Heat, Mike Miller, Norris Cole, Orlando Magic, Otis Smith, Pat Riley, Quentin Richardson, Ryan Anderson, Shane Battier, Stan Van Gundy, Udonis Haslem, Von Wafer