(Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
As if the Orlando Magic didn't have enough to worry about in facing the Miami Heat, trade rumors were swarming around Dwight Howard and several of his teammates the entire day. The Magic were still able to focus on the game, and behind a vintage performance from Jameer Nelson with a season-high 25 points, and Howard's 24 points and 25 rebounds, overcame a 13 point third quarter deficit to defeat the Heat 104-98 in overtime. Ryan Anderson added a double-double of 16 points, 12 rebounds. J.J. Redick also came up big, with an efficient 17 points on 10 shots, starting in place of the injured Jason Richardson. The "Big Three" of Miami, Dwyane Wade (28 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists), LeBron James (19 points, 11 rebounds, 8 assists), and Chris Bosh (23 points, 8 rebounds) combined for 70 of the Heat's 98 points, but only 27 of those points came in the second half and overtime.
That the Magic were able to win despite committing 24 turnovers and missing 16 free throws, including 12 misses by Howard, underscores how much better they did than the Heat in other areas. The Magic outshot the Heat 49.3% to 44% from the field, outscored the Heat 33-24 from three-point range, outscored the Heat 21-10 from the free throw line, and outrebounded the Heat 47-36. The Magic attempted more than three times the amount of free throws than the Heat, 37-11. Incredibly, the Heat did not attempt any free throws in the second half or OT.
|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 Magic never trailed in the OT, as Howard's two free throws with 3:23 remaining put the Magic up for good 98-96. Nelson's two driving layups and Redick's two free throws closed the scoring for the Magic.
This was Nelson's first game all season that he has scored more than 20 points, and the closest Nelson has resembled his All-Star form from the 2008-09 season. He was aggressive in driving to the hoop, and his jumper was on, as he connected on 4 of 7 from long range and shot 10 of 16 overall. He added 4 assists, with 2 steals, along with 4 turnovers, in 37 minutes.
The Magic started the game fairly well, leading Miami 30-27 after the opening quarter, despite 7 turnovers. The Magic shot 70.6% in the first, and extended their lead to 41-35 after an Anderson bucket with 6:54 remaining in the half, when things went bad for the Magic quickly. They did not score again for nearly six minutes, as the Heat went on a 20-0 run, capped by James' three pointer with 1:24 remaining in the half. Miami enjoyed their largest lead of the game at 55-41 at that point, and led at the half 56-45. Orlando shot 29.4% in the second quarter, with the Heat hitting on 64.7% from the field. The Big Three of Miami combined for 43 first-half points, while Howard led the Magic with 12 points and 9 boards.
The Heat led 61-48 after a Mario Chalmers three pointer with 10:12 remaining in the third, when the Magic started their comeback. Nelson scored 8 points, Anderson 7 points, and Redick 5 points to help the Magic take a 71-70 lead after Redick's three-pointer with 1:00 remaining in the third. James' three-pointer put Miami back on top, as they led 73-72 after three to set up the exciting fourth quarter and overtime.
Credit goes to the Magic defense for limiting Miami's chances driving to the hoop, and causing them to attempt more jumpers than they probably would have liked. James shot just 2 of 11 in the second half, with most of his attempts coming from the outside. Point guard Chalmers shot just 4 of 13 in scoring 10 points for the game, backup Norris Cole was just 1 of 6, and reserve forward Shane Battier was just 1 of 5, including missing all four of his threes.
Conceivably, this could have been Dwight Howard's last home game in a Magic uniform. Howard and the rest of his teammates were successfully able to tune out the rampant trade rumors and speculation to their credit, for a big win over one of the NBA's best teams. In addition to Miami, the Magic have beaten the Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers in the last six days.
Other game notes:
-The 24 points and 25 rebounds from Howard was the fourth game of his career where he has had at least a 24 point, 25 rebound game.
-The Heat's 11 free throw attempts was only the third time in two seasons that the Heat have attempted 11 free throws or fewer in a game.
-In then second half and OT, the Heat shot just 19 of 55 (34.5%), while the Magic shot 19 of 39 (48.7%).
-The Heat had 23 fast-break points but just 2 fast-break points after the first half. They scored 32 points off the Magic 24 turnovers.
-Hedo Turkoglu, after sitting out a game due to suspension, struggled offensively, with almost as many turnovers (6) as points (7). He made a big jumper to tie the game at 91 with 1:45 remaining, and also contributed 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals.
-Quentin Richardson scored 9 points to lead the Magic reserves, and was called for a flagrant foul against Bosh late in the first half. Glen Davis was the only other Magic reserve to score, with 6 points on 2 of 7 shooting.