The Miami Heat picked up their seventh straight victory on Saturday against the Orlando Magic, 112-98, sweeping the four-game season series against their in-state rival for the second season in a row.
The Magic got strong performances from Nik Vučević (18 points, 10 rebounds) and Tobias Harris (20 points on 6-of-11 shooting), but that duo couldn't match the Heat's top two performers. Kyle O'Quinn came off Orlando's bench to score 14 points and grab a career-high 15 boards in 22 minutes.
Miami opened the game sluggishly, arriving late to most loose balls and committing unforced errors at the offensive end. Maurice Harkless, in particular, benefitted from that lax approach by coming up with two steals in the opening six minutes, the first of which led to a powerful dunk over Shane Battier to bring Orlando to within a point.
A jumper from Vučević moments later gave Orlando a three-point edge and seemed to stir the Heat: the hosts went on an 18-8 scoring run after Vučević's long deuce, with back-to-back triples from Mario Chalmers and Chris Bosh helping to key that spurt. Orlando hustled back with five interior points from Harris and a breakaway layup by E'Twaun Moore to close the period trailing, 32-30.
Orlando's sloppiness fed the Heat's offense: Miami scored on all six of the Magic's live-ball turnovers in the first half, aiding them on a night when they didn't look their sharpest in the halfcourt. Another factor in Miami's 61-53 lead was its ability to draw fouls: the Heat went 15-of-19 from the stripe before intermission and goaded three different Magic players into committing three fouls each.
The Magic managed to hang around the two-time defending champs by scoring on the interior: Vučević scored four of his six baskets on tip-ins, and Orlando, as a team, made 12 baskets in the restricted area. Jameer Nelson did his part by keeping the ball moving, with eight assists to one turnover in the first half.
A sharper Heat club began opening up the game in the third quarter, with a spectacular Wade-to-James lob off a Nelson turnover at the 6:54 mark putting Miami up by 12, its largest lead of the night to that point. Orlando didn't absorb many Miami punches in the first half, so how it'd respond after intermission merited attention. Orlando kept its poise and continued to run its normal offense, but given its glaring talent deficit, it would need a breakout performance from at least two of its players in order to draw back to within striking distance.
The Magic owed much of their first-half success to offensive rebounds and to easy scores at the rim, many of which came as the result of leveraging the Heat's aggressively help-oriented defense against them. Miami rotated more crisply in the third quarter, however, reducing the frequency with which Orlando found easy chances to score.
Miami took control by scoring on six consecutive possessions in a 3-minute, 11-second span in the third quarter. James capped that run with a long two-pointer which put his club up by 20.
Down 16 to start the fourth, Orlando had a chance to put together another run and push for a victory. But the Heat scored on six of their first eight possessions of the period to start a 13-6 scoring run, taking a 23-point lead with 8:02 to play and burying the overmatched visitors.
With 4:56 to play, Magic swingman Adonis Thomas made his NBA début. Thomas, a Memphis product, signed a 10-day deal with Orlando on Tuesday. Fellow 10-day signee Dewayne Dedmon checked in two minutes later after Thomas committed a shot-clock violation, though infairness to the 6-foot-6 swingman, Andrew Nicholson hit him with a low pass late in the clock, giving him precious little time to recover and make a sound play.
Thomas finished the game with two points, scoring his lone basket in transition with a show-and-go move, pivoting back to the inside after faking a pass to the left corner. Dedmon tallied three points and two boards in three minutes.