Orlando Magic get heart-fought win over Miami Heat

Apr 8, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic guard Evan Fournier (10) defends Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) during the second half at Amway Center. Orlando Magic defeated the Miami Heat 112-109. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 8, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic guard Evan Fournier (10) defends Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) during the second half at Amway Center. Orlando Magic defeated the Miami Heat 112-109. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The Orlando Magic needed contributions from unexpected places, but it was the familiar faces executing to score a win over the Miami Heat on Friday.

110. Final. 112. 38. 109

Elfrid Payton had made good decision all night when he probed into the lane and opted to challenge Hassan Whiteside. It was the kind of mistake and poor execution late that would have anyone who has watched this team this year groaning that another late-game lead would disappear on a bad decision.

And the Miami Heat made the Orlando Magic pay for it. They quickly raced down the floor and found Joe Johnson for a corner 3-pointer to tie the game with 30 seconds left. It felt like Miami would escape Orlando’s clutches again.

Coming out of the timeout though, the Magic ran their play flawlessly. Evan Fournier came off a triple stagger screen and caught the ball off the curl at the top of the key. He surveyed the play, tried to drive and circled back around for a screen from Nikola Vucevic.

That freed him up to get downhill and into the paint where he drew Hassan Whiteside. That is when he dropped a perfect pass to Nikola Vucevic streaking down the lane for a two-handed jam over the Heat defense and a two-point lead.

The Magic needed one stop. They got it and then gave up an offensive rebound, a common theme throughout the game. They would need one more to hold off the Heat as Erik Spoelstra came running down the floor screaming for a timeout.

Scott Skiles inserted Devyn Marble into the game for the first time since the second quarter, a decision that proved extremely key. Marble cut in front of the inbounds pass and stole it with three seconds left, allowing the Magic to hang on for a 112-109 victory over the Miami Heat at Amway Center.

ScoreOff. Rtg.eFG%O.Reb.%TO%FTR

Dwyane Wade (MIA) — 17 pts.; Hassan Whiteside (MIA) — 13 pts., 16 rebs.
Nikola Vucevic (ORL) — 29 pts.; Elfrid Payton (ORL) — 16 pts., 10 assts.

There would be no heartbreak here and no disappointment for the Magic in this late-game situation.

“I think we won the game defensively,” Evan Fournier said. “We showed a lot of heart. I think the last play of Devyn Marble showed the spirit of the team. It was a very good win for us.”

Skiles said the Magic played that final possession overall very well. His decision to bring in a defensive-focused wing certainly paid off, but Mario Hezonja guarded the inbounder, Luol Deng, well and the team stuck with their defenders throughout.

That was the execution the team has focused on and needed throughout. And that execution, and other big plays late came from unexpected players.

Thanks to injury — Aaron Gordon out with a concussion and then a third-quarter concussion Victor Oladipo suffered in the third quarter trying to take a charge on Hassan Whiteside — some unexpected players were forced into duty. Miami’s penchant for playing small also created some weird lineups.

Still, the Magic had to step up and make plays. The game was not going to wait for them, no matter how deep the Magic had to go into their bench.

At several key points unexpected players had to step up and come into the light for the Magic to win. They kept their foot down on the gas pedal to pick up the pace and get out in transition.

Elfrid Payton especially pushed the pace and created opportunities in transition. He scored 16 points and dished out 10 assists.

His best, and most important assist, may have come when Payton played a two-man game with Watson and found him cutting baseline for a lyaup. That put the Magic up five with 59.5 to play. Watson hit a step-back 3-pointer to give the Magic some breathing room a minute earlier, two big shots from a player who has seen little action of late.

Watson stayed ready for his opportunity just like so many other guys did.

“I just try to go out there and play hard when I am in there,” C.J. Watson said. “I always stay ready, get my shots. It doesn’t change anything.”

Devyn Marble, Orlando Magic, Miami Heat
Apr 8, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic forward Devyn Marble (11) grabs the rebound with less the 5 second left from the Miami Heat during the second half at Amway Center. Orlando Magic defeated the Miami Heat 112-109. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Watson, Marble and even Mario Hezonja gave the Magic quality minutes to help replace Oladipo once he left the game. Hezonja played some solid defense on Joe Johnson and even Dwyane Wade late as the Heat tried to attack the rookie.

These were unexpected guys to step up but showed the readiness and the urgency to step in when their number was called. They all contributed in their own way.

This, by all rights, was not a game Orlando should have won. Not with the constant breakdowns defensively lately and the continued frustration late in games. The Heat’s small ball lineup forced the Magic into some odd lineups to match and the team struggled to get box outs on the weak side.

Miami had 23 offensive rebounds and scored 31 second-chance points. That by all rights kept the Heat in the game. But the Magic were also game defensively. They got those initial stops, even if they could not always finish the possession.

That would prove to be a big difference to get the offense going and try to outscore the Heat in some ways. Orlando’s stops when the team got them led to fast-break opportunities. Even though the Magic gave up offensive rebounds, it played into the Magic’s hands consistently.

The Magic made plays throughout the game. Payton was getting into the lane in transition. Fournier was coming around screens hard and was focused as a playmaker, attacking the basket and finding Vucevic on a few drives to the basket.

Fournier finished with 28 points on 7-for-12 shooting and 12-for-15 shooting from the foul line. He was aggressive and the focal point of an offense that was humming well, helping find Vucevic plenty of times among Fournier’s seven assists on Vucevic’s way to 29 points too.

The Magic have lost plenty of games that had a similar makeup to this one. It seemed like this game was about to turn. And the Magic had plenty of dispiriting possessions end with an offensive rebound after good rotations.

Orlando scratched out the win though. The team found a way and made the plays. No matter who it was that had to do it. They came together as a group.

Next: Orlando Magic take on Miami Heat in miniseries

“It’s always good when you get better at something,” Vucevic said. “We learned from our mistakes tonight and did what we are supposed to. The thing for us is to do it consistently. For us to be a winning team, we just have to do things consistently, especially when it is a close game.”