The turnovers, missed shots and ugly losses continue to pile up for the shorthanded Orlando Magic.
That was the case again on Sunday as the Magic let a fourth quarter lead slip away in a 102-97 loss to the Miami Heat.
The Magic started the game by picking up right where they left off against the Spurs on Friday in what was their lowest scoring game of the season: by missing shots and turning the ball over.
Less than four minutes in, the Magic had already commit four turnovers. Possessions where they didn’t turn it over didn’t end up all that much better as Orlando struggled to hit much of anything early on in the first, with Miami jumping out to a quick 16-5 lead on a three by Kelly Olynyk with 5:04 left in the quarter. Olynyk by the way had 10 first quarter points after dropping 13 in the first against the Magic on Thursday.
A circus three-point play by Chasson Randle sparked a 9-0 run, capped by a Terrence Ross straightaway three with the shot clock winding down, to pull the Magic within 22-19 heading into the second. It was an encouraging end to the quarter in which the Magic shot just 31.6 percent and had seven turnovers, yet were still within one possession.
The Heat struggled from deep in the first, making just 3 of 13 attempts. That changed early in the second quarter as Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro hit back-to-back threes on two separate occasions, pushing the Heat lead back up to 34-22 just 2:25 into the quarter. The Magic later went on a 12-2 run, capped on a three by Chuma Okeke, to once again made it a one-possession game at 38-35.
Vucevic scored the final six points for the Magic, and finished the half with 17 on 7-for-16 shooting, as the Magic trailed 48-45 at the break. Ross added 11 points and Dwayne Bacon had 9 at the half, as Orlando shot just 38.9 percent and had 11 turnovers that led to 13 Miami points. They managed to stay within one possession with a big advantage at the free throw line (12-for-15 compared to 3-for-4 for the Heat) and with Miami shooting nearly just as bad at 39.6 percent. With just four turnovers, as well as four offensive rebounds, the Heat got 12 more shot attempts than the Magic in the half. Had Miami been hitting their threes, the Magic would have been in some trouble, but the Heat managed to make just 7 of 27 attempts in the half.
The Magic took their first lead of the game early in the third when a three-point play by Michael Carter-Williams made it 50-48. Vucevic then hit three triples in a two-minute span for a 61-58 lead with seven minutes left in the third. He’d add two more in the quarter during what became a shootout with Jimmy Butler. Vooch had 17 points in the quarter, making 5 of 7 threes, while Butler had 12.
The Magic, after shooting 54.5 percent in the quarter, would go into the fourth up 77-73 following Ross’ three in traffic with seconds remaining in the third.
Ross took over three-point shooting duties early in the fourth with Vooch on the bench, hitting a pair to help the Magic lead reach six.
Then came more turnovers, the first of which led to an Olynyk three that cut the Magic lead in half. It became a back-and-forth affair with five lead changes between the 5:20 and 3:22 mark.
The last lead change was on a Butler jumper that put the Heat up 95-94. Herro followed with a three and the Heat run reached 7-0 to increase the lead to 100-94 with 1:45 left.
With the Magic down three and coming out of a timeout with 22.1 seconds remaining, Ross came off a curl and took a well-defended three early in the shot clock that drew air. Al-Farouq Aminu saved the ball from going out of bounds and passed to Dwayne Bacon in the corner. Bacon, defended tightly by Robinson, put the ball on the ground and then attempted a turnaround three while falling out of bounds with 10 seconds remaining on the shot clock when he easily could have dribbled or passed out for a quick reset. Bacon’s shot barely hit rim. MCW then grabbed the rebound and tried to pass out to Ross but the pass was tipped away by Butler who raced down court for the layup to seal the win.
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It was the eighth straight loss for the Magic and the 10th win in 11 games for the Heat. Butler had 29 to lead Miami and Herro added 22.
Vucevic had 38 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists. He shot 15-for-27 from the field, including 6 of 13 from three, but he did have seven of the Magic’s 23 turnovers. Ross had 31 points, making 8 of his 13 three-point attempts. The two combined to go 14-for-26 from three while their teammates combined to go 4-for-14 as the Magic wasted strong offensive performances from Vooch and T-Ross.
The Magic are now off until Thursday when they take on the Knicks in New York, giving them an opportunity to get some rare practice time in and maybe get some healthy bodies back.