Denton's Dish: Magic at Heat (2/19/12)



By John Denton
February 19, 2012


MIAMI – Roughly 60 minutes before Sunday’s nationally televised showdown between Orlando and Miami, Magic guard Jason Richardson was hit with a mysterious case of chest pains that he first thought was heartburn, but later deemed to be a flu bug.

Then, the game started and the chest pains were no longer confined to just the Magic’s shooting guard.

``My chest pain is Dwyane Wade,’’ said Magic coach Stan Van Gundy after Miami’s superstar guard made 13 of 23 shots and scored 27 points in the Heat’s 90-78 defeat of the Magic in South Florida.

Wade and LeBron James (25 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists) inflicted plenty of pain on the Magic on Sunday, combining for 52 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists to end Orlando’s winning streak at four games.

Whereas Round 1 in the Sunshine State showdown clearly went in favor of the hot-shooting the Magic 11 days ago, Sunday’s Round 2 was a Heat runaway most of the day. The Magic (20-12) battle issues with turnovers (15) and poor shooting (36.5 percent), but it was the inability to slow down Miami’s one-two punch of Wade and James that mostly did them in.

Afterward, Magic star Dwight Howard sounded as if he couldn’t wait to face the Heat again. And he wasn’t necessarily talking about the regular-season rematches in Orlando (March 13) and in Miami (March 18).

``They just outplayed us tonight and on the offensive end we didn’t have it going. That happens, but we have to play through it,’’ said Howard, who had 12 points and 15 rebounds. ``The biggest thing is being ready during playoff time.’’

Sunday’s game was the first of a four-game roadtrip over the next five days. The Magic will face the Milwaukee Bucks for a third time in 10 nights on Monday. Then, after having Tuesday off, the Magic play in New Jersey (Wednesday) and Atlanta (Thursday) before breaking for the NBA All-Star Game.

The Magic are unsure whether or not they will have Richardson Monday night in Milwaukee after he was hit with several rounds of chest pains over the course of Saturday night, Sunday morning and Sunday afternoon. After Richardson experienced pains in his chest during his pregame warm-ups, he saw two doctors who advised him not to play. Doctors determined Richardson to have a virus in his chest that could keep him out of action at least day.

``They told me not to play. I was scared when I started running and I felt a sharp pain going toward my chest area. That’s nothing to play with,’’ Richardson said. ``I’m glad it was nothing major. It started (Saturday) night and I thought it was heartburn. Once I took that step and started to run, I knew it wasn’t heartburn. They said (he should sit out) 24 hours to two days, so we’ll see how it goes (Monday).’’

Sunday’s game was a far cry from 11 days earlier at the Amway Center when the Magic shredded the Heat 102-89 by hitting 17 3-pointers and getting a 20/20 effort from Howard. Whereas the Magic led at the end of every quarter and by as many as 19 at one point in that first meeting, the Magic had the lead a mere 103 seconds total on Sunday.

The Heat (25-7) haven’t lost since that Magic rout, winning six straight games. Miami holds a five-game lead over Orlando and Atlanta in the Southeast Division. Again, Van Gundy boiled Sunday’s loss down to its most basic form.

``When we scored we couldn’t get a stop and when we stopped them we couldn’t score,’’ Van Gundy said. ``It was that simple.’’

Here is a closer look at some of the key moments from Sunday’s nationally televised game from Miami:

    MAGICAL MOMENTS

  • Back with the Magic after missing Friday’s game to attend the funeral for his father, John Greer, Glen ``Big Baby’’ played some of his most inspired basketball of the season.

    He had 12 points and three rebounds off the bench and made all six of his free throws. At times in the ragged second half, Davis seemed to be playing harder than anyone else on the floor.

    At one point in the fourth quarter, Davis scored eight straight points for the Magic, hitting the six free throws and sinking a baseline jumper over Chris Bosh.

    He admitted after the game that the deaths of his grandmother and father combined with his struggles on the court have taken a toll on him over the past month.

    ``With my grandmother’s death and now my father dying, I’ve got to be mentally strong right now,’’ Davis said. ``I have to take it to another level completely with my focus. I’ve got to leave (the family grief) out of here when I come in (the locker room).’’

  • Forced to start in place of Richardson, Redick was ready and locked in from the start of the game. Usually a reserve who doesn’t enter the game until the middle of the first period, Redick picked apart the Miami defense for 11 points and three 3-pointers in the opening 12 minutes.

    For the game, Redick scored 17 points by making six of 10 shots and five of seven 3-pointers. Redick hit two 3-pointers in the third quarter when the Magic made a run to within nine points of the lead.

    MAGIC MYSTERY

  • The Magic had clawed back to within 63-54 late in the third quarter, but one particularly bad sequence seemed to break Orlando’s will.

    Mario Chalmers missed a 3-pointer from the corner, but James got the offensive rebound and kicked the ball out to Shane Battier. Battier also missed a 3-pointer and this time Udonis Haslem rebounded the ball. The next time, Battier hit a 3-pointer that seemingly hit every bit of the rim before dropping.

    ``We were struggling like hell there to score and then on that one possession they get three shots at it and Battier finally rattles in a three,’’ Van Gundy said. ``It’s not like we didn’t rebound all night, but we just couldn’t come up with the ball there and it hurt us.’’

  • The Magic seemed to have weathered the Wade-James storm in the first quarter, digging out of an 11-point deficit and actually taking a 27-24 lead on an Anderson 3-pointer.

    But the advantage quickly dissipated when the Magic’s offense completely fell apart midway through the second quarter. During a 6-minute, 18-second stretch, the Magic failed to score while turning the ball over four times and missing three shot attempts. Nelson had two shots blocked and turned the ball over during the poor stretch.

    Meanwhile, the Heat scored 12 straight points to spring to a 36-27 lead. Wade and James accounted for six of the 12 points during the game-changing run.

    The Magic made just five of 23 shots in the second quarter and compounded the troubles with six turnovers in the period. As a result, the Magic trailed 43-31 at the half. Of the Magic’s nine first-half turnovers, three were by Nelson, while Howard and Turkoglu had two each.

    ``The thing they did do well was clog the paint up and forced me to pass the ball out. They had a good defensive game,’’ Howard said. ``They just played harder than us. Every time I caught it in the paint, everybody was there. We didn’t hit shots and that allowed them to keep (clogging) the paint.’’

    MAGIC MOVES

  • Former President Bill Clinton sat courtside at the game as a guest of Miami owner Mickey Arison. During a break in the action in the third quarter, the Heat presented Clinton with a jersey with his name stitched to the back.

    The crowd inside the American Airlines Arena gave Clinton a standing ovation, which he acknowledged by standing and waving to the crowd.

    Rappers Lil’ Wayne and Chris Brown also sat courtside (several seats away from Clinton) and were cheered when shown on the replay board.

  • James fumed after the loss to the Magic 11 days ago that the Heat allowed Orlando to hit 17 threes on the outside and Howard still dominated on the inside with 25 points and 24 rebounds.

    To beat the Magic, he said the Heat must take away one or the other. On Sunday, Orlando hit 11 of 29 3-pointers, while Howard was held in check and struggled from the free throw line (2 of 10).

    ``The first game (against the Magic) we gave up too much. We gave up 17 threes and 14 offensive rebounds,’’ James said. ``You can’t give them both. They shoot the ball extremely well and they have the big fellow in the middle who does a lot of damage to us. So we tried to take away something.’’

  • In surprisingly good spirits after the game, Davis hopes that his rocky season is about turn around following Sunday’s strong play. Davis said the past few weeks have taken a severe toll on his emotions and he hopes that he can turn around his season.

    ``I’ve been at the bottom with my game and have been struggling tremendously,’’ he said. ``Knowing what I can do and knowing my potential I can only go up from here. I’m trying to stay positive and level-headed.’’

John Denton writes for OrlandoMagic.com. John has covered the Magic since 1997 and recently authored ``All You Can Be’’ with Magic center Dwight Howard. E-mail John at jd41898@aol.com

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