By John Denton
March 6, 2013
MIAMI – Usually double-digit NBA winning streaks, such as the 16-gamer that the Miami Heat fashioned at the hands of the frustrated Orlando Magic, don’t necessitate parades, but there were actually two of them on Wednesday at American Airlines Arena.
While one after another Heat players paraded to the free throw line late in the game, three Magic players were forced to march to the bench because of controversial foul disqualifications.
As if that scenario wasn’t already frustrating enough, the Magic could only look on somewhat helplessly as LeBron James drove hard to the rim and converted a game-winning layup with 3.2 seconds remaining to lift Miami over Orlando 97-96.
When the pulsating finish was complete, the Magic (17-45) were left only with their contemplations of what might have been in a potentially stunning defeat of the Heat (45-14) had they been able to catch a break – any break at all, really – down the stretch what devolved into the most heartbreaking loss of the season.
``It was a good fight for us. They got to the free throw line 35 times last time (when the two teams played in December) and tonight they only shot 31 free throws,’’ said Magic coach Jacque Vaughn, choosing his words carefully as to not draw a fine from the NBA’s league office. ``I thought the guys in our locker room did a great job of showing their hands (on defensive plays) and playing hard. We played through a lot.’’
``Add it up, 30 fouls to 17 and we have three of our guys foul out,’’ Vaughn continued. ``One day we’ll get there. It’s the NBA and everyone gets the same fouls called on them. So of course that’s not an issue.’’
James, who had 26 points, drove past rookie DeQuan Jones for the winning layup with 3.2 seconds remaining. The play allowed Miami to extend its franchise-best winning streak to 16 games.
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