Wade Lifts Heat Past Magic Again
Miami 110, Orlando 100
ORLANDO, Fla., Feb. 15 (Ticker) -- Dwyane Wade is playing like he has a lot more All-Star starts in his future.
Wade had 36 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists and Gary Payton hit a pair of clutch 3-pointers late as the Miami Heat completed a home-and-home sweep of the Orlando Magic with a 110-100 victory.
"I broke my own scoring record?" said Wade, who set the previous record when he scored 109 in a three-game stretch from December 7-11. "I didn't even know I had one. I was just trying to make plays and help my team."
The Heat never trailed en route to their third straight win and pulled away midway through the third quarter. After Hedo Turkoglu's free throw drew the Magic within 59-50 with 6:18 left in the session, Wade had six points and an assist in an 11-2 run that pushed the lead to 70-52 three minutes later.
"It's good to go into the All-Star break (on a winning streak), relax a little bit and not be worried about where your team is," Wade said.
Orlando cut the deficit to 71-59 before Miami seemingly put the game out of reach with an 18-1 burst that bridged the final two quarters. Antoine Walker made a pair of 3-pointers during the burst, the final one assisted by Wade that made it 89-60 with just over 10 minutes left.
But the Magic, who never led in the home-and-home series, made a furious rally, closing within 98-92 on two free throws from Dwight Howard with 2:03 to play.
"We just didn't give up," Howard said. "We were down 29, even though that's a big deficit, you know you never throw in the towel. We made sure we gave a better effort in the second half and try and come back and win the game."
Wade, who was on the bench for most of Orlando's run, answered by setting up Payton for a 3-pointer from the left baseline.
"Dwyane did a good job of breaking them down and I was ready to shoot," Payton said. "That's why (head coach) Pat (Riley) put us out there. When he puts confidence in us, that is what we have to do."
Wade then hit two free throws in between baskets from Tony Battie and DeShawn Stevenson before finding Payton from virtually the same spot for a dagger trey that made it 106-96 with 48 seconds remaining.
"They were definitely big threes, relief threes," Riley said. "I've had one game where I had a 28-point lead the lost the game because I was stubborn and didn't put my starters back in the game."
Walker scored 13 of his season-high 26 points in the first half to help the Heat build a 51-45 lead.
Howard and Battie led six players in double figures with 16 points apiece for the Magic, who are involved in many different trade rumors.
They completed one deal during the game, acquiring underacheiving forward Darko Milicic - who was picked three spots ahead of Wade in the 2003 draft - and guard Carlos Arroyo from the Detroit Pistons for center Kelvin Cato and a future first-round pick.
"If anything, this shows we're not throwing in the towel on the season," said Magic coach Brian Hill, whose team has lost 10 of its last 11 games.
Howard, who also collected 11 rebounds for his NBA-best 39th double-double, is hopeful that Milicic will be able to resurrect his career in Orlando.
"I haven't played against Darko at lot," Howard said. "You know he's a pretty crafty player. He hasn't had a really good chance to show off his talent."
Cato did not play Wednesday for the 15th straight game after spraining his ankle Jan. 18.