Magic Rally From 24 Down, Take Down The Heat


The Orlando Magic earned one of the most improbable wins of the NBA season by rallying from a 24-point third quarter deficit to defeat the Heat in Miami 99-96. Orlando was thoroughly dominated for two-and-a-half quarters but used a great second half performance combined with the three-point shot to defeat the Heat. The Magic outscored the Heat 54-33 in the second half.

Jason Richardson led the Magic with 24 points while LeBron James scored 29 and Dwyane Wade scored 28 for the Heat.

The Orlando Magic put together an absolutely pathetic performance in the first half. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were virtually unstoppable and the Magic looked almost disinterested in defending either one. The two combined for 47 first half points and helped Miami take an 18-point lead at the half.

It looked like it’d be more of the same in the second half. The Heat started the quarter on a 10-4 run to push the lead to 24 before the Magic started to get hot from beyond the arc. Jason Richardson hit four of Orlando’s five third quarter three-pointers to cut the lead to just 80-71 after three.

Orlando stayed hot entering the fourth quarter. They got two three-pointers apiece from Jason Richardson and Gilbert Arenas and started the quarter on an 18-2 run, giving them an 89-82 lead. The Heat got back in it and trailed by just three with eight seconds left but both Chris Bosh and LeBron James missed open threes, giving the Magic the 99-96 victory.

After the jump, you can read more thoughts and observations from the game.

It was like night and day for the Magic. For as bad as they were on the defensive end in the first half, they were that good in the second. After LeBron James’ dunk with 8:56 to go gave Miami a 24-point lead, the Magic held the Heat to just 23 points over the next 20 minutes and 56 seconds. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade combined to score 57 points, but put up just 10 in the second half. Orlando closed the third quarter on a 22-7 run and opened the fourth on an 18-2 run.

Overall, the Magic went on a 40-9 run during the third and fourth quarters.

Orlando’s defensive rotations were so much better in the second half. They did a much better job of contesting jump shots by James and Wade. Quentin Richardson was inserted in Tuesday night’s game to harass Carmelo Anthony and was inserted Thursday night to harass LeBron James. He did a pretty good job, forcing James to pass the ball to teammates and turn the ball over.

Offensively, the three-point shot and more specifically the three-pointers shot by Jason Richardson were the story for the Magic. Richardson made all six of his three-pointers in the second half and finished with 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting.

As a team, the Magic went 16-of-29 (55.2%) from beyond the arc.

Gilbert Arenas, who made some baffling decisions and terrible turnovers, wound up hitting a couple of huge shots, including two three-pointers at the end of Orlando’s huge run. He finished with 11 points on 3-of-7 shooting. Orlando’s starting point guard, Jameer Nelson, didn’t shoot well (6-of-15 from the field) but was aggressive again. He frequently got into the lane and tried to finish at the rim or got the ball to open teammates. He finished with 16 points and seven assists.

Dwight Howard had a pretty rough night. The Heat had a plan to “swarm” at Howard and did a good job of pulling it off. Howard had just 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting but grabbed 18 rebounds and blocked five shots, including key blocks of James and Mario Chalmers in the second half.

Ryan Anderson should be given credit too. He scored just two points in the second half but those two points gave Orlando a two-point fourth quarter lead. Anderson kept the Magic somewhat afloat in the first half by scoring 13 points. He finished with 15 points and five rebounds in just 23 minutes.

Earl Clark and Chris Duhon did not enter the game.

Next Up: The Magic will host the Chicago Bulls at 7:00 pm EST Friday in a game that will be shown nationally by ESPN.

Final Thought: Wow. What a big victory for the Magic.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger and ESPN 1080’s Magic Insider ( Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here).