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Heat 113, Magic 92: Orlando’s shooting struggles continue

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The Heat on the other hand...

Orlando Magic v Miami Heat Photo by Oscar Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images

The team in Southern Florida has shooters. The team in Central Florida does not.

That just about sums up the Heat’s 113-92 rout of the Orlando Magic. It was the fourth straight loss, and sixth in the last seven games, for the Magic, who fall to a season-low six games under .500. The Magic have failed to reach the 100-point mark in their last three games and have failed to shoot better than 40 percent in each.

It’s easy to chalk it up to fatigue during what has been a grueling stretch for the shorthanded Magic, capped by playing an emotional game against the Clippers in the wake of the Kobe Bryant tragedy followed by traveling to Miami to complete a back-to-back against a Heat team that is 20-2 on its home court.

Combine that with the Magic’s key offensive players struggling with their shot, and their normally reliable defense allowing far to much penetration in the paint, and you will lose by 20-plus points.

Nikola Vucevic was coming off a 5-for-14 shooting performance against the Clippers, and prior to that, a 6-for-18 performance against the Celtics. Terrence Ross was coming off a 3-for-15 shooting performance against the Clippers, and before that, a 3-for-14 performance against the Celtics. Their struggles continued against the Heat as Vucevic shot just 5-for-15 and Ross 4-for-14, leading to the Magic quickly shooting themselves out of the game. Aaron Gordon went 6-for-15, Evan Fournier went 3-for-13 and Orlando overall shot just 37.1 percent from the field (11-for-37 from three, 29 percent) while Miami connected on 53.2 percent of their attempts, including 50 percent from three (14-28).

The Magic allowed the Heat to shoot 60 percent in the first, including 4 of 7 three point attempts, to build a 31-21 lead after the opening quarter. Soon to be the new All-Star center in Florida, Bam Adebayo had his way with the Magic early, scoring 10 points in the first while missing just one shot.

The Heat lead reached 16 when Dion Waiters connected on a three with 9:13 remaining in the half to make it 41-25. The Magic - led by Aaron Gordon, who had eight points in the second - outscored the Heat 23-13 over the remainder of the quarter to pull within 54-48 at the break.

After working their way back into the game in the second quarter, the Magic got off to a disastrous start in the third. The Heat connected on eight of their first 11 shots, and went on a 14-0 run to increase their lead to 76-52. An 8-0 run, powered by Mo Bamba and the second unit, later helped pull the Magic within 83-68. The Magic cut the lead to 14 after a hustle play by Wes Iwundu helped the Magic retain possession and resulted in a three by Terrence Ross with 36.7 seconds remaining in the quarter.

A Duncan Robinson three sparked a 9-0 Heat run to open the fourth, putting the Heat back up by 23. Robinson later added a four-point play, the third time in the game the Magic fouled a three-point shooter, to extend the lead.

Adebayo finished with a triple-double of 20 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Robinson had a team-high 21 points, making 6 of 9 three-point attempts. Jimmy Butler added 19 points and seven assists.

Gordon and Vucevic each had 13 points to lead the Magic, who outscored the Heat 16-2 on second chance points. Markelle Fultz added 12 points and seven assists, and Ross finished with 11 points. Bamba was perhaps the lone bright spot with another solid performance as he played with energy and purpose, scoring 10 points and grabbing three rebounds in 13 minutes.

The good news? There will now be a much needed rest for the Magic, who have four days off before again facing the Heat on Saturday. The Magic are just 4-21 this season against teams with records over .500, but according to Tankathon, they have the easiest remaining strength of schedule in the league.