Howard’s Big Night Leads Magic Past Heat
Orlando 80, Miami 77
ORLANDO, Fla., Nov. 26 (Ticker) -- The Orlando Magic were able to end their losing streak to the Miami Heat because of contributions from two youngsters and a key mistake by a veteran.
Dwight Howard collected 15 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks to help the Magic halt an eight-game slide against the Heat with a hard-fought 80-77 triumph.
However, when Wade drove for the game-tying basket, Howard came from behind and swatted the ball out of bounds with 13 seconds left. After the ensuing inbound pass, nine-time All-Star Gary Payton was pressed by Magic guard Steve Francis and inadvertently stepped out of bounds.
"I knew (Wade) was going to take the last shot," Howard said. "I got a piece of the ball going up and was in the right place at the right time."
"Of course, (Gary) got pushed," Wade said. "Steve Francis was playing very aggressive and he was already on the tightrope out of bounds. A little questionable, but we can't do anything about it now."
Jameer Nelson, Orlando's second first-round pick behind Howard in 2004, was intentionally fouled and calmly swished two free throws to ice Orlando's first win against Miami since March 23, 2003.
Hedo Turkoglu made 10-of-10 free throws and scored 18 points for the Magic, who won their third straight home game despite shooting just 35 percent (27-of-77) from the field.
Orlando had only one basket in the final six minutes - DeShawn Stevenson's jumper with 2:55 remaining that provided a 76-69 lead. The Magic, who have gone entire periods without shooting free throws in their last two games, connected on 10-of-12 free throws in the third quarter and 8-of-9 in the fourth quarter.
"Obviously this was a real big win for us tonight," Magic coach Brian Hill said. "This was a team that had beaten us eight consecutive games. It got a little bit ugly at times, but better to win ugly than lose pretty. We made big free throws down the stretch when we had to and continually attacked the basket and kept the pressure on them."
Miami stayed close by sinking 5-of-10 3-pointers in the final period. They hit three in a row in an 11-3 run that closed the deficit to 76-72 with 2:37 remaining.
Alonzo Mourning collected 15 points, a season-high 21 rebounds and four blocks for the Heat, who have lost four straight road games.
"When you're playing in a hole like that, it kind of makes it difficult down the stretch for you to get back into the game on the road," Mourning said. "I think our mentality on the road especially has to be like we're down all the time because we play better and play with more energy when we're down."
"Right now, we're not a team that has shown consistency of energy or intensity," Heat coach Stan Van Gundy said. "We want to play only as much as we think we have to play and put ourselves in bad situations. Either we'll learn from it or point finger at referees or whoever and won't learn anything and the same thing will keep happening."
It was quite a battle down low between the 35-year-old Mourning, who is still playing at a high level following a kidney transplant, and Howard, who was six years old when Mourning was drafted in 1992. Mourning notched his fourth double-double and Howard his ninth.
"As far as going up against Alonzo, I like going up against the best," Howard said. "It makes me better, shows me stuff I need to put into my game."