The Orlando Magic looked set to coast to a victory. But the Miami Heat had other plans, rallying in the second half to erase an 18-point deficit.
At a certain point, it just seemed like Orlando was hoping to hold on, making enough shots to finish the job. That is not how the Magic built as much as an 18-point lead in the first half. But when the well is giving water there is no reason to stop bringing it up.
And so in the third quarter, trailing by that large margin, the Heat went to Tyler Johnson again and again. And no one seemed capable of stopping him as he scored 22 points on 10-for-11 shooting.
In the fourth quarter, it was Goran Dragic‘s turn. He keyed the Heat’s come-from-behind victory, scoring at will on the pick and roll in the final moments with little resistance from the Magic. When Miami finally took the lead with two minutes to play, Orlando started pressing and could not retake the lead, falling to Miami 117-111 at Amway Center on Saturday.
The Magic scored just 19 points in the fourth quarter, unable to maintain the momentum of the team’s stellar first half.
Orlando dominated the first 24 minutes with a dominant defensive performance that fed the team’s fast break game. The Magic set a season-high mark for fast-break points in the first half alone. That was exactly how the Magic always envisioned themselves playing.
But Orlando could not keep that pace up. Not with Miami upping its physicality on defense and Orlando struggling to prevent fouls from accumulating. In the last three quarters, it seemed the Heat were in the bonus within the first four or five minutes. That put the Magic behind the 8-ball and killed the easy offense that helped them score in the first half.
The Magic again put in a good effort. they played with energy and gave themselves every chance to win. But they could not stop the coming storm. This game came down to execution on defense. What came so easily in the first half was a grind in the second half. And that played into the Heat’s hands.
The Orlando Magic open the 2018 calendar year on the road against the Brooklyn Nets on New Year’s Day on Monday.