Denton: Sunshine State Rivalry Continues Sunday

By John Denton
February 18, 2012

ORLANDO – If Miami power forward Chris Bosh didn’t know much about Orlando’s Ryan Anderson before the Feb. 8 matchup between the Magic and Heat, he should now. Anderson just hopes when they meet again on Sunday in Miami that Bosh will again be distracted and he’ll continue to get a bevy of open shots.

Anderson burned Bosh for 27 points and five 3-pointers in the Magic’s 102-89 whipping of the Heat nine days ago. Anderson’s hot shooting paved the way for the Magic to make 17 3-pointers and provide a rare blemish on the record for the red-hot Heat.

``Miami is a team that has a lot of offensive threats, but so do we and (Bosh) really has to pay a lot of attention inside on (Magic star center) Dwight (Howard),’’ Anderson said. ``I really don’t think that (Bosh) is coming into this game thinking about how he’s going to guard me. Obviously, Dwight is a huge matchup problem inside for Miami, so hopefully they pay a lot of attention to that and continue to leave me open.’’

Orlando (20-11) and Miami (24-7) collide Sunday at 3:30 p.m. in a nationally televised game while playing some of their best basketball of the season. The Magic, 94-85 winners Friday night against Milwaukee, have won four in a row and eight of 10. The only two losses were overtime defeats to the Los Angeles Clippers and the Atlanta Hawks.

Meanwhile, the Heat rolled in lopsided fashion in Cleveland on Friday and have won five straight road games after losing in Orlando. On their extended road trip, the Heat became the first team since the 1979-80 Phoenix Suns to win three straight games in as many days. Also, they became the first team in the NBA in 32 years to win three straight road games by double-digit margins. In the Heat’s eight victories over the past nine games, they have won by an average margin of 18.8 points.

LeBron James is second in the league in scoring and he pounded his old Cleveland team for 28 points on Friday. But against the Magic two weeks ago he made just five of 15 shots and scored only 17 points. That belies how well he’s played this season, Miami coach Eric Spoelstra said.

``He’s been playing at an MVP level all season,’’ Spoelstra said. ``He’s arguably playing the best ball of his career. He’s playing as well as anyone in the league.’’

The Heat were mostly silenced two weeks ago against a Magic team that rode plenty of hot shooting from the outside and plenty of muscle inside from Howard. The superstar center scored 25 points and grabbed 24 rebounds, while the perimeter players drilled 17 3-pointers.

``Against this (Magic) team you have to try and take away one thing or another,’’ James fumed two weeks ago. ``And we let them do both.’’

Bosh seemed in no man’s land most of the game, unsure of whether he should be helping trap Howard on the inside or closing out on Anderson on the perimeter.

Anderson, who leads the NBA in 3-pointers made (91) and 3-pointers attempted (207), also surprised Bosh by running to the 3-point line on the fastbreak, while Bosh scurried back to the lane to help defend Howard.

Anderson wasn’t the only one burning the Heat’s sagging defense. Jason Richardson and J.J. Redick made three 3-pointers apiece, while Jameer Nelson and Quentin Richardson each hit two.

Said Magic coach Stan Van Gundy: ``I learned that if we make 17 threes that we’re very good.’’

The Magic will have to be very good to survive arguably their toughest roadtrip of the season. Following Sunday’s game in Miami, the Magic play in Milwaukee (Monday), New Jersey (Wednesday) and Atlanta (Thursday).

``Really, this whole month has been tough because it seems like we’ve been playing every day or every other day,’’ Magic guard Jason Richardson said. ``This is a really tough trip that we have ahead of is, starting with that game in Miami. We’ll stay together and keep battling and then we’ll be able to live with whatever the results are.’’

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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