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Magic 111, Heat 109: Three-point shooting a vice for Miami as Magic prevail

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Magic end up splitting the ‘17-’18 season series with their in-state rivals

NBA: Orlando Magic at Miami Heat Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off arguably the most productive month of his NBA career, Mario Hezonja took advantage of another opportunity Monday night in Miami and ran with it. The 22 year-old forward, starting in place of Aaron Gordon, scored 20 points to lead Orlando to a 111-109 victory over the Heat at American Airlines Arena.

Hezonja, who just completed the first month in his NBA career in which he averaged over 10 points and over 20 minutes per game, provided a major lift for the Magic (especially early in the game when other Magic players were struggling).

“He keeps growing, he keeps getting better,” Frank Vogel said of Hezonja. “He’s showing me what he can do on the offensive end, I’m challenging him on the defensive end. He had a better defensive night tonight than he’s had in two or three weeks. He’s making progress there as well.”

“I was real happy for our guys. They competed tonight and played a more physical brand of basketball than they did last game, which is what I challenged them to do.”

That physical brand of basketball Vogel is referring to cost the Magic to a certain extent. The Heat attempted 35 free-throws in the contest, including 28 attempts in the first half alone.

To overcome the free-throw disparity (which mildly evened out in the second half), the Magic shot efficiently once again from deep. The Magic knocked down 13 three-point attempts (13-30, 43%), compared to Miami’s three (3-23, 13%). Miami marksman Wayne Ellington, who hit 6 three-pointers against the Magic in Orlando on December 26th, was 0-8 from deep Monday night.

The Heat marched to the free throw line 14 times in the first quarter as Hassan Whiteside beasted his way to nine early first quarter points. Miami held a 15-5 rebounding advantage over the Magic after one period.

While it took some time for the Magic starters to get involved in the flow of the game, Hezonja kept Orlando in the contest.

Miami built a nine point lead after one quarter, but Orlando’s second unit quickly cut into that deficit behind strong play from veteran D.J. Augustin. Augustin had 8 points and 3 assists in the first half.

The Heat again marched to the charity stripe another 14 times in the second quarter. The Magic were charged with 17 personal fouls in the first half, which kept Miami ahead in the contest despite their ineptitude from behind the arc (began the game 0-11 from 3PT).

The game seemed to change at the very end of the second quarter. The Magic went on a furious 10-2 run, sparked by a Wes Iwundu layup on the break, and back-to-back threes from Jonathon Simmons. The Heat led the Magic 60-59 at the half.

Hezonja continued his hot shooting in the third, connecting on back-to-back three point attempts. The Magic hit 9 of their first 15 shots in the third quarter. Evan Fournier picked up his fourth foul with 4:59 to go in the third, which luckily didn’t end up hurting the Magic too much.

The fourth quarter started furiously, with Marreese Speights and Augustin combining to knock down three three-point attempts, which led to a quick Miami timeout.

“Those guys (Speights and Augustin), when they’re making shots from the perimeter, they get us energized and it opens up the lane,” Vogel said. “So we were able to get to the basket some too. And when the other team is taking the ball out of the basket, your defense is stronger.”

After the Magic pushed their lead to 14 points, the Heat immediately went on a 12-0 run, fueled by a Goran Dragic steal that lead to an emphatic dunk (and one) by rookie Bam Adebayo. Adebayo gave the Heat a huge lift off the bench. He finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 blocked shots.

Coach Vogel may have gone with his bench unit a minute or two too long during this run. He ultimately got the starters back in the game with 5:39 left in the contest, and they immediately found themselves in a close game.

The last minute of the game was sloppy to say the least. The Magic turned the ball over to the Heat off an inbound pass in the corner with under 30 seconds left in the game.

The Heat weren’t able to convert a game-winning shot, although they got multiple chances to do so. Josh Richardson missed a wild jumpshot with six seconds left, but the Magic weren’t able to secure the defensive rebound. Tyler Johnson picked up the loose ball and tried to lay in the game-tying shot, but Bismack Biyombo came up with a huge blocked shot at the rim.

Inexplicably, the refs blew their whistle and reviewed Biyombo’s block to see if he goal-tended on Johnson’s attempt. When his block was deemed legal, the Heat were somehow rewarded with the ball and one last attempt to tie or win the game.

But the Heat weren’t able to get a shot off, and the Magic escaped with the win.

The Magic had six players finish in double figures, led by Hezonja, Simmons (16 points), and Augustin (16 points).

Miami was led by Richardson’s 20 points. Whiteside got a double-double (19 points and 14 rebounds), but only played 23 minutes.

Of note, Kelly Olynyk strained his left shoulder in the contest, and ended up only playing seven minutes.

The Magic are back in action tomorrow night at home as they host the Cleveland Cavaliers.