Magic GameNight: Orlando at Miami (3/3/11)
NBA Coverage: Game Info
Date: Thursday, March 3
Time: 8 p.m.
Location: American Airlines Arena (MIAMI, FL)
Radio: AM 580 WDBO, AM 1270 WRLZ
MIAMI (AP) Another big lead, another big collapse.
It's becoming a trend for the Miami Heat - and one the Orlando Magic were more than thrilled to exploit Thursday night.
Down by 24 points in the third quarter, the Magic went on an unbelievable 40-9 run over the next 15 minutes and stunned the Heat 99-96, the second-largest comeback in Orlando franchise history and matching the second-biggest in the NBA this season.
Jason Richardson scored 24 points for Orlando, 11 of them to kickstart the epic burst that turned a 73-49 deficit into an 89-82 lead.
"Well, that defies explanation," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said.
There's only been six instances this season of a team taking a 22-point lead or more and losing. The Heat have been victimized that way twice, both times at home, the first against Utah in the season's earliest stages.
This one seemed to cut much deeper.
"We've blown a lot of games where we were in full control," Heat forward Chris Bosh said. "And we have to do something."
Jameer Nelson scored 12 of his 16 in the second half and Dwight Howard finished with 14 points and 18 rebounds for the Magic, who fell into the 24-point hole when LeBron James scored with 8:57 remaining in the third quarter.
Orlando outscored Miami 50-23 the rest of the way.
"To do it on the road, that was an incredible win," Van Gundy said.
Said Dwyane Wade: "Mindboggling."
James and Wade combined for 47 points in the first half and outscored the Magic by two in the first 24 minutes.
That was long forgotten by the end.
"I've been a part of games like this one before, but this one is special," said Richardson, who was 5 for 5 from 3-point range after halftime. "We knew what they did to us last time. LeBron and D-Wade played at a superstar level in the first half. We just hung in there, battled, got some stops. It was huge getting a win here."
James scored 29 and Wade had 28 for Miami.
Wade was 0 for 4 in the fourth, James 0 for 2. Combined in the second half, they were 3 for 13, all three makes by James. They were hardly the only ones to blame - in the fourth quarter, Howard alone outrebounded Miami 10-9.
"We need to keep on pushing through," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "There's no other way to say it. ... The tide turned."
The game was significant in the standings.
Miami is now two games behind Boston - three in the loss column - for the best record in the Eastern Conference. And Orlando, which has very quietly won four straight, is now just 3 1/2 games behind Miami in the Southeast Division. The Heat go to San Antonio on Friday, while Orlando hosts Chicago.
Ryan Anderson scored 15 and Gilbert Arenas added 11, including a pair of big 3-pointers in the fourth. Orlando was 9 for 14 from 3-point range after halftime, while the Heat were 11 for 37 from anywhere on the floor.
"I have never been a part of one like that," Van Gundy said.
That's not entirely true.
Orlando nearly rallied from a 23-point deficit in the final 7 1/2 minutes when the teams last met early last month, missing a potential game-tying shot in the final seconds that night on its home floor.
So on Thursday, the Magic started rallying much sooner.
"To tell you the truth, I didn't even know we were down that much," Nelson said. "I was just playing. I just think that's what you have to do when you know you can play better and you're not playing up to your potential. Just get it going somehow, not worry about the score."
Miami was down 97-96 with 9.6 seconds left. J.J. Redick pushed the lead to three with a pair of free throws, before Bosh and James missed 3-point attempts in the final seconds.
"Got a good look," James said. "Just didn't go in."
Mike Miller made a 70-footer for Miami moments after the halftime buzzer, something that looked inconsequential when the Heat were leading by 18 at the time.
The final margin? Three points.
"The urgency is there," Wade said. "Just got to finish it. We enjoy these games. We play them hard. ... It's growing pains and it (stinks). You look for the light at the end of the tunnel."
James made his first 11 shots when the teams last met in Orlando a month ago, so the Magic were possibly relieved when his first attempt Thursday bounced away.
Ah, a mere temporary blip for the two-time MVP.
James wound up making nine straight shots after that first miss and Wade was 10 for 12 from the field by halftime, as the Heat took a 63-45 edge into the locker room.
"It was one of those nights the stars aligned," Van Gundy said.
In the last Heat home game, they wasted a 15-point lead before losing to the New York Knicks. At Orlando a month ago, Miami was up by 23 with 7:40 left before surviving a white-knuckle finish. A 23-point lead in Indiana was all but squandered a couple weeks ago, and there was the stunning 22-point collapse in a home loss to Utah in November.
This might have been the worst of all.
"We continue to get big leads and we continue to falter," James said. "Hopefully we can figure it out soon."
Notes: The teams split the season series, each going 1-1 at home. ... James was charged with a turnover midway through the third, but the play hurt Bosh more. He inadvertently walked into James' passing lane and took a ball off the face, the pass rolling out of bounds toward the Orlando bench. ... Orlando's biggest comeback this season was a 16-point deficit before beating Dallas.
MIAMI – When shots incredibly started falling in bunches and the defense on LeBron James and Dwyane Wade dramatically rose to suffocating levels, the Orlando Magic’s belief swelled that they could possibly pull off something historic Thursday night.
Remarkably, a Magic team given up for dead when it trailed the rival Miami Heat by 18 points at halftime and by as much as 24 points in the second half awoke from its slumber and pulled off a comeback win for the ages.
A second half that started as ``a playing for pride thing,’’ as Ryan Anderson put it, morphed into a monumental night as Orlando registered the second greatest comeback in franchise history and shockingly beat the hated Heat 99-96 at American Airlines Arena.
Once down 73-49 early in the third quarter, the Magic used runs of 22-7 (to end the third period) and 18-2 (to start the fourth quarter) – a shocking 40-9 spurt in all – for what very well could be the biggest regular-season victory in franchise history.
``It was about us imposing our will on them,’’ said point guard Jameer Nelson, who had 12 of his 16 points in the second half. ``When you start making shots you are going to have confidence, but it was about us imposing our will on defense and taking the challenge. This comeback shows what we’re capable of doing when we’re zoned in and willing to do it.’’
The 24-point rally just missed equaling the all-time Magic record. Orlando’s comeback from 25 points down on Nov. 8, 1989 in Cleveland is the all-time franchise record. This victory easy outdistanced the Magic’s previous biggest rally of the season – a battle back from 16 points in Dallas on Jan. 8.
``This is one of these games that I’ll still remember 10 years from now when I’ve already forgotten everything but all of the losses,’’ giddy Magic coach San Van Gundy said through a chuckle. ``I’ll always remember this win.’’
Orlando (40-22) won for a fourth straight time, but only because they held James (29 points) and Wade (28 points) to just a combined 10 points in the second half after the dynamic Heat duo had 47 points in the first half. Wade (0 for 6) did not have a field goal in the second half and James (0 for 2) did not score in the fourth quarter. James missed a wide-open 3-pointer with 3.3 seconds remaining, giving the Magic the victory and setting off a wild celebration at midcourt and later in the locker room.
``It was definitely a great show of resilience by the team,’’ said Magic forward Quentin Richardson, who hit a crucial 3-pointer with 2:41 to play and generally made life miserable for James with his defense. ``We got down against a great team, but we didn’t go away. I’ve been in the league long enough to know there’s another half to play. We said, `Let’s keep making shots, play good defense and keep chipping away. It was huge for us to do what we did.’’
The Magic, who evened the season series with Miami at 2-all, got 24 points and six 3-pointers from shooting guard Jason Richardson. Point guard Jameer Nelson scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half. Superstar center Dwight Howard had 14 points, 18 rebounds and five blocks and his biggest contribution might have been his season-high five assists out of Miami double teams.
``I remembered our first game here (a 96-70 loss on Oct. 29) and I told the guys before the game that we couldn’t get embarrassed like that again,’’ Howard said. ``I thought they were going to do that to us again most of the night, but thank God that we were able to wake up and get a big win.’’
Things don’t get any easier Friday night when the Magic host the Chicago Bulls (41-18) at the Amway Center.
Here’s a look back at what went right, what went wrong and some final observations from a victory that will go down in Magic history as one of the greatest ones ever: