With franchise center Dwight Howard mired in foul trouble and unable to get his shots to drop, the Orlando Magic's secondary stars took charge and keyed Orlando to a 96-80 win over the Miami Heat, its first win in three tries against them this season. Rashard Lewis scored a game-high 22 points for the host Magic, his highest offensive output since a 23-point performance against Boston exactly 4 weeks ago. The Magic's shooting-guard duo of Vince Carter and J.J. Redick combined for 32 points on 77.9% True Shooting, while point guard Jameer Nelson picked his spots carefully and finished with 12 points and 4 assists. And not to be overlooked, Marcin Gortat contributed 9 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 blocks in relief of Howard. Orlando limited Miami superstar Dwyane Wade, who owns a career scoring average of 30.1 points per game against the Magic, to just 21 today, his lowest total against them since scoring 21 in November 2005. Efficiency was a huge factor in Orlando's win, as it committed turnovers on just less than 10% of their possessions.
|Team||Pace||Efficiency||eFG%||FT Rate||OReb%||TO Rate|
|Green denotes a stat better than the team's season average;|
red denotes a stat worse than the team's season average.
The game got off to a poor start for Orlando, with Howard unable to get any solid looks against Jermaine O'Neal or his backup, Joel Anthony. At the other end, Wade countered his lack of shooting touch by drawing fouls on his drives, as is his wont. He attempted 8 foul shots in the first 10 minutes of the game, but just 4 thereafter as he struggled to keep control of the ball.
For Orlando, this win was simply a matter of keeping Miami at bay long enough for its own offense to come around, and the Magic answered that challenge. If Wade wasn't creating for himself or for others in transition, the Heat could not get many clean looks at the basket. O'Neal scored 16, sure, but he also needed 17 shots due to his preference for taking jumpers, which in turn kept him off the foul line. Wade is one of the league's best, most dynamic scorers, but even with him, the Heat's offense is inefficient--not just today, but overall--due to the personnel around him. Michael Beasley might be the only other Heat player who can consistently create his own shot. Daequan Cook, Dorell Wright, Mario Chalmers, and Quentin Richardson all need someone else to set the table for them. And for all of Rafer Alston's speed and handling skill, he's not much of a threat anymore, as a teammate assisted him on all 4 of his made three-pointers tonight.
Carter was an offensive spark early on, but Redick really got the team going in the second half at that position. He and Gortat work well on the pick-and-roll together, and he was so effective that Magic coach Stan Van Gundy played him over Carter in the fourth quarter, despite Carter's solid play throughout. He rewarded Van Gundy with two key shots as Miami made its run. At the 6:36 mark, Redick sank a three-pointer to end a 4-0 Heat run and give Orlando a 13-point lead. More importantly, he drilled what proved to be the clinching three to boost Orlando's lead to 11 after an Alston trey had cut the margin to single-digits with a little more than 3 minutes left in the game. In that way, this game was closer than the final score would indicate.
But with both stars unable to get any offensive rhythm, it fell to the role players to decide the outcome. Orlando's complement proved superior. Lewis, in particular, seemed more assertive in taking what the defense would yield him than he has of late. If the D chased him off the three-point line, he took a few dribbles inside the arc and pulled up for two. But at times it seemed like Beasley was trying to see how little attention he could pay Lewis defensively, and it cost him. Beasley tends to roam a bit, and Lewis frequently received the ball and had an open three-pointer, but saw that Beasley was nowhere nearby and went to the rim instead. A heady performance by Orlando's 12-year veteran, and a disappointing one for Miami's sophomore.
The Magic now head to Philadelphia, where they'll play the 76ers tomorrow night.