Looking for a bounce back win after a disappointing loss on Wednesday, the Orlando Magic welcomed their in-state rival Miami Heat to the Amway Center. The Magic bounced back in a big way, playing a good overall game to knock off the playoff-bound Heat, 112-109.
Early on, the Magic struggled offensively, shooting a poor 36.4 percent in the opening quarter. After coming back and tying the game following Miami taking a four point lead, the Magic crumbled, allowing the heat to go on a 12-4 run to take control of the game. The Heat bench gave them a lift, with Hassan Whiteside, Gerald Green and Justise Winslow combining for 12 points in the quarter, including a pair of three's from Green. After one, the Magic found themselves trailing by eight, 27-19.
After an up and down first quarter, the Magic began to find more of a groove, settling into the flow with their reserves in. Thanks to a set of buckets from Mario Hezonja, and some strong, confident play from Evan Fournier, the Magic were able to hang with the Heat for much of the quarter after falling behind by 10 early on. Miami continually beat the Magic on the boards, grabbing 12 offensive rebounds in the half, leading to 14 second chance points. Despite the struggles on the boards, and inability to get consistent stops, the Magic found themselves down just two, 55-53 at the half.
Out of halftime, the Magic were able to avoid their customary third quarter collapse, rather taking the lead from the Heat in the early portion of the quarter. The Magic were able to attack the Heat defense and have success, scoring 18 of their 26 third quarter points in the painted area. Before leaving following an elbow from Whiteside. Victor Oladipo helped give the Magic some life, scoring seven points in the quarter, to go along with a pair of assists. After three, the Magic found themselves trailing the Heat by one, 80-79.
Down their best defender, the Magic's defense didn't waver in the fourth quarter. Despite giving up a few jumpers to Dwyane Wade, the Magic's defense was strong overall, getting stops on a handful of possessions, allowing them to hold onto their lead. A three-point play, plus a technical free throw gave the Magic a five point lead, their biggest of the game, and put them in an apparent good position to take home the win. Up five, the Magic looked poised to take home the win, but the Heat had other thoughts.
After a pair of free throws from Wade, the Heat got a stop and the ball back with under 40 seconds remaining. Pushing the pace, they found Seven-Time All-Star Joe Johnson wide open for a corner three to tie the game up. Tied with 30 seconds to go, the Magic went quick and got a bucket from Vucevic. The Heat missed a shot to tie, but got the offensive rebound, giving them one more chance to tie or win. Just inserted into the game, Devyn Marble got a clutch steal on the inbounds, wrapping the game up for the Magic.
Nikola Vucevic led all scorers, finishing with 29. Fournier added 28 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Elfrid Payton added 16 points and 10 assists. Oladipo finished the night with 13 points before leaving due to injury,
Wade led the way for the Heat, finishing with 17 on the night. Goran Dragic added 15, while Whiteside, Johnson and Josh Richardson scored 13 apiece. Green scored 11 off the bench. Luol Deng scored 10 of his own on the night.