Heat Blow Out Magic 96-70


It wasn’t pretty for the Orlando Magic in Miami Friday night. The Heat scored the first 14 points of the second half to blow a six-point game wide open. The Heat cruised to a 96-70 victory from there.

The story of the game was Miami’s defense. Throughout the game, the Heat ran the Magic off of the 3-point line and forced the Magic into a lot of bad shots.

Despite not being able to hit 3-pointers like they normally do, Dwight Howard kept the Magic in the game during the first half. He scored 19 points and hit several jump shots, which was one of the few positives the Magic could take out of this game. He really looks to have a new confidence about him. Anyone who saw Howard in practice or even before games knew what he was capable of doing on offense but it took a summer of working with Hakeem Olajuwon to get Howard passed his mental hurdle.

Unfortunately for the Magic, not only did Howard get a technical foul for violating the league’s new spirit of the game campaign but he picked up quick fouls in the second half and wound up fouling out in the fourth quarter, keeping him off the floor for a majority of the second half and keeping him at 19 points for the remainder of the game.

Miami’s incredible perimeter defense stymied the Magic all night. They shot just 4-of-24 from beyond the arc (16.7%). Orlando desperately needed Vince Carter to make plays for his teammates but Carter could only play 10 minutes after he hit the ground very hard on a shot attempt while driving to the basket. Carter finished with just 4 points on 1-of-5 shooting.  Orlando’s other shooting guard, J.J. Redick, was also injured when he took a charge from LeBron James. He went to the locker room before halftime to get stitches but returned to the game but could only muster 4 points on 1-of-4 shooting.

The Magic scored just 25 points in the second half and a decent portion of those came during garbage time.

I touched on Carter’s problems earlier but it gets even worse – Orlando wings (Carter, Redick, Quentin Richardson, and Mickael Pietrus) combined to shoot 4-of-20 from the field and the point guards (Jameer Nelson and Chris Duhon) were 4-of-12 (Nelson was 3-off-11).

Rashard Lewis was even worse, finishing with 2 points on 0-of-9. The Magic obviously can’t go very far with Lewis playing like that.

Brandon Bass, who’s improved energy, effort and overall play was a bright spot during the preseason, played pretty well when given the opportunity. He was just 1-of-5 from the field but he got himself to the free throw lines 8 times, hitting 7 and scored 9 points in 17 minutes. He had 6 rebounds, continuing to show improvement in that aspect of his game. He even had a nice dish on Howard’s 19-foot jump shot.

On the other side, the Heat were led by Dwyane Wade’s 26 points. The second half started with a LeBron James’ 3-pointer followed by back-to-back 3-pointers from Wade. The Magic never recovered. Wade was Wade. He showed off his incredible athleticism, getting several runaway layups. LeBron James wasn’t quite LeBron James (by his standards) but he scored 15 points, dished out 7 assists and grabbed  6 rebounds and was frequently doing a good job of setting up his teammates.  Chris Bosh had another poor shooting night, scoring 11 points on 2-of-9 shooting. Something looks a little off with Bosh early on but that’s to be expected considering it’s just his third game in Miami.  Still this is something the Heat have to get figured out and I’m sure they will.

The Heat surprisingly dominated the glass. They got good bounces in the first half but did an excellent job in the second, pulling down a total of 51 boards to Orlando’s 40.

Game Notes:

  • The Magic shot just 30.4% from the field, 16.7% from downtown and posted an effective field goal percentage of just 33.3%.
  • The Magic assisted on only 5 of their 21 field goals.
  • Wade, Bosh and James combined to shoot only 17-of-42 (40.4%) from the field and the Heat shot 40.7% as a team.
  • They did make up for that by going 9-of-18 from beyond the arc and 21-of-27 from the free throw line.

Next Up: The Magic are in New York to face the new-look Knicks Tuesday night.

Final Thought: We shouldn’t overreact to game 2 (game 3 for the Heat) of the season too much but if the Heat are going to defend like that all season, they could very well live up to the hype.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, a contributor on the Fansided Front Page, and co-host of CB Sports Radio from 5-7 pm week days (1420sports.com). Subscribe to his RSS feed, follow him on Facebook and add him on Twitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here).