The Orlando Magic dropped their third straight game Saturday as the Miami Heat erased a 16-point halftime deficit to earn a 101-99 lead. LeBron James hit the go-ahead basket over Arron Afflalo with 15.1 seconds to play, capping a 22-point night for him.
Glen Davis, playing his first game since January 30th, led Orlando with 20 points in 26 minutes off the bench. Afflalo scored 18, on just 7-of-17 shooting, but also added seven rebounds and five assists. Making his second consecutive start, Victor Oladipo had arguably his best game as a pro, scoring an efficient 17 points with seven rebounds and four assists.
Dwyane Wade, who sat out Miami's win over Orlando on Wednesday, led all players with 27 points.
The Magic really came alive in the second quarter, using crisp ball movement and hot shooting to build their lead to as large as 16 points. Reserve guard E`Twaun Moore shot 5-of-5 in the period, with four three-pointers, for 14 points. That figure matched the Magic bench's entire output for Wednesday's loss against Miami.
He wasn't the only Magic player contributing, however: playing his first game in 297 days, Davis scored nine points in as many first-half minutes, while Oladipo scored an efficient nine points with five rebounds.
Three-point shooting was the real reason for Orlando's halftime lead: thanks in large part to Moore, the Magic were 9-of-13 from deep in the first half, compared to Miami's 0-of-10 showing. But one got the sense that Orlando wouldn't maintain that lead once the Heat starting making threes, it started missing, or if Miami simply gave a better effort.
All three of the above occurred in the third quarter, with James sinking two threes in the opening two minutes of the third, igniting a 10-0 Miami run. The Heat played a more engaged brand of basketball after intermission, as their focused aggressiveness at both ends of the floor demonstrated: Wade got to the basket twice for one-handed jams in that period alone, and Miami's defensive traps came harder and more purposeful.
Back-to-back baskets by Norris Cole tied the score at 66 with 4:09 to play, but Orlando weathered the Miami run thanks to Oladipo. He scored Orlando's next six points and then dished to Davis for a long two-pointer; that deuce put Orlando up by three with 1:44 to play. Ultimately the Magic ended the third with a six-point edge.
The teams traded buckets for the early part of the fourth quarter, but Miami started to gain an edge after a fast-break bucket by Arron Afflalo: over the next two-plus minutes, the Heat went on an 8-1 run to take an 89-88 lead, their first advantage since they scored the first two points of the game.
After tying the score at 92 off a Maurice Harkless dunk, the Magic failed to get stops on each of Miami's next five possessions, yielding nine points in total. No basket was bigger than James' step-back over Afflalo with 15.1 seconds to play: it put Miami up by two points.
The Magic went to Afflalo on their final play, but pesky defense by Wade forced him to catch in the middle of the floor and far away from the hoop. Afflalo's shot after an aggressive, spinning drive came up well short, and Oladipo wasn't able to convert after scooping up the rebound; his right-baseline jumper bounced off the front side of the rim and over to the other side as time expired.
Though the play from Davis and Oladipo is encouraging, as is the fact that the team absorbed a pretty big blow from Miami in the third quarter, the fact that Orlando could not get a stop in the fourth quarter is disconcerting: the Heat scored on 10 of their final 12 possessions.