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Shorthanded Magic run out of gas, fall to Heat, 118-96

After a hard-fought win on Friday, the Magic suffered from another halftime lull from which they couldn't recover.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Orlando Magic dropped their third game of the season to the Miami Heat on Sunday, losing 96-118 at the American Airlines Arena. The Heat avenged Friday’s loss with a strong offensive showing, getting 89 points on 56 percent shooting through the first three quarters alone. Heat starters Loul Deng, Hassan Whiteside, Dwyane Wade, and Goran Dragic all scored 17 or more despite sitting most of the final period.

Orlando was again dismantled in the third quarter, where they were outscored 20-33 by a Heat team in postseason form. Though Hassan Whiteside started the game, he would wait until after halftime to strike – totaling 12 points and grabbing six boards in the pivotal third quarter. Old Magic foe Dwyane Wade also caught fire, scoring eight on a perfect 3-of-3 from the floor.

"We just couldn't get anything going in the third," said Magic center Nikola Vucevic, "it was just flat and they're too good of a team to play like that, especially on their home floor"

Tonight’s game was a near opposite of Friday’s Magic win, as the rebounding battle was near even for most of the night, but the Heat dominated the free throw total 30-19. Evan Fournier was part of the difference, taking only one free throw after his career-high 15 on Friday.

Miami opened up the game on a drive for revenge – looking to climb from fifth to third and secure home court in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

In the first quarter they made a strong case, scoring 31 points on 75 percent shooting. The shorthanded Magic were able to keep pace behind stellar performances by Nikola Vucevic and Mario Hezonja. Both shot a near-perfect 4-of-5 from the field – Vucevic with eight points and Hezonja with 10 thanks to his two three-pointers. Heat center Hassan Whiteside made a rare start due to a resting Amar’e Stoudemire, but it was unsuccessful as he registered as many turnovers as he did points (2). Goran Dragic picked up the slack, scoring 11 and not missing a shot until the second period.

In the second, Miami continued to pour it on – scoring 25 points, nine of which came at the free throw line. Seven of the nine active Heat players scored in the period, giving the Magic defense fits.

The fourth quarter was mostly academic, as only two starters from either team took the floor. The Heat used the 20-point cushion to try new lineups, as well as putting in newly signed Briante Weber, who scored his first NBA field goal.

Orlando entered the matchup down two starters, with both Victor Oladipo and Aaron Gordon potentially done for the year due to concussions. Rookie Mario Hezonja and stretch forward Ersan Ilyasova started in their places, marking the first time all five Magic starters hailed from different countries. Hezonja notched his seventh start of the year, starting off hot but ending ice cold. Hezonja scored 10 points in the first quarter, but would fail to score again despite ample playing time. Ersan took his recent slump to a new level, missing his all four of his shots and scoring 0 points in nearly 17 minutes.

"They (Oladipo and Gordon) are a big part of what we do," said Fournier, "and so not having them on the floor hurt us for sure"

The Magic (34-46) take on the Milwaukee Bucks (32-47) tomorrow at the Amway Center for their last home game of the season. As part of Fan Appreciation Night, there will be discounted tickets, special guests, and other promotions found here. With a win total of 34 and two games left to play, Orlando can win up to 12 more games than last season.