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10-year Orlandoversary: Magic rally from 24 points down to top Heat

Orlando Magic v Miami Heat Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

As the late-2000’s turned into the 2010’s, the Miami Heat eventually supplanted the Orlando Magic as the premier team in the Sunshine State.

With a revamped lineup that added LeBron James and Chris Bosh to a squad that already featured a former NBA Finals MVP in Dwyane Wade, the Heat went to four straight NBA Finals from 2011 to 2014. On this day 10 years ago however, the Magic showed that they still had plenty of pride as they rallied from 24 points down to beat Miami, 99-96.

The Magic had won three straight as they arrived at American Airlines Arena for the nationally-televised in-state showdown on March 3, 2011. Extending that streak to four however, looked to be pipedream.

James and Wade were outstanding for Miami in the first half. To add insult to Orlando injury, Mike Miller, who once won Rookie of the Year for the Magic, banked in a 70-foot shot as the first half buzzer sounded to give the Heat a 63-45 halftime lead.

Things seemed to be going from bad to worse. Miami opened the second half on a 10-4 run. James’ slam with less than nine minutes to play in the third quarter gave the Heat a commanding 73-49 lead.

Down, but not out, Orlando made a run for the ages.

For Orlando, it was guard Jason Richardson who caught fire. Richardson made all five of his three-point attempts in the second half and ignited what would be a 40-9 run.

Following Richardson’s third triple of the period, Jameer Nelson knocked down a pair of free throws with six seconds remaining in the third quarter to cut the lead to single digits. Down 80-71 after three, Orlando seized control with 16 straight points over a 3 ½-minute stretch during the final period.

After back-to-back three-pointers from Richardson drew the Magic to within three, Gilbert Arenas evened things up with a trey of his own. With less than eight minutes to play in the game, Ryan Anderson’s layup gave the Magic their first lead since the first quarter. That was followed by another trey from Arenas and a basket from Nelson.

What had been a 24-point deficit had turned into an 89-82 Magic lead in less than 15 minutes of basketball time. The Heat would finally find their footing and make things interesting.

Down 96-89 with less than two minutes to go, Miami made a 7-1 run to draw to within a point. J.J. Redick knocked down a pair of free throws to push the Orlando lead to 99-96.

With eight seconds left, Miami had one last chance to draw even. After Bosh’s three-point attempt missed badly, an offensive rebound led to a wide-open look for James. His game-tying attempt was left short as Orlando emerged victorious in Miami.

James and Wade finished with 29 and 28 points, respectively, for Miami, but neither scored from the field in the decisive final quarter. Bosh added 13 points, but it wasn’t enough.

Richardson led the way for Orlando with 24 points on an efficient 9-for-14 shooting and 6 of 8 from deep. Nelson tallied 16 points and seven assists while Dwight Howard had the game’s only double-double with 14 points and 18 rebounds. Anderson and Arenas added 15 and 11 points, respectively, off the Orlando bench.

The Magic would go on to win 52 games before falling to the Atlanta Hawks in the playoffs. Miami would go on to win the first of four straight Eastern Conference titles before ultimately losing to the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Finals.

As for the season series, the teams split four meetings, thanks to the incredible comeback, which served as the second-largest in Magic history. It happened on this day one decade ago.