FINAL: ORLANDO MAGIC 104, MIAMI HEAT 95


GameNight Specifics
NBA Coverage: Game Info
Date: Wednesday, Nov. 24
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Location: Amway Center (Orlando, FL)
Radio: AM 580 WDBO, AM 1270 WRLZ
Television: FSN Florida, ESPN



PROJECTED MATCHUPS

LINEUPS MAY CHANGE BY GAME TIME


TEAM
PG
SG
C
PF
SF
R
R
HEAT
Carlos Arroyo

Dwyane Wade

Joel Anthony

Chris Bosh

LeBron James

James Jones

Zydrunas Ilgauskas
MAGIC
Jameer Nelson

Vince Carter

Dwight Howard

Rashard Lewis

Quentin Richardson

JJ Redick

Brandon Bass





















GAME RECAP


First came "The Decision." Then the expectations. Now the pressure is on the Miami Heat more than ever.

Even from the White House.

Dwight Howard had 24 points and 18 rebounds, J.J. Redick scored 20 points and the Orlando Magic beat Miami 104-95 on Wednesday night to hand the Heat's All-Star trio its first three-game losing streak.

The slower-than-expected start for the Heat has resonated all the way to Washington, where President Barack Obama said before the game in an interview with ABC that it "takes some time for the team to come together."

Nobody could have imagined it would take this long.

"If we had the answer right now, we wouldn't be sitting at one game over .500," LeBron James said of his Heat's 8-7 start. "We're a few games out of first. We're a few games out of eighth."

And they just hit a new low.

Jameer Nelson had 17 points and a career-high 14 assists, coming up with some big shots late to help Orlando pull away and avenge a 26-point loss at Miami earlier this season.

James had 25 points, Chris Bosh finished with 21 and Dwyane Wade scored 18 for Miami in the latest blow to the collection of stars who came together this summer hoping for a championship. Miami also lost to Memphis and Indiana in the last week, but the loss to its Sunshine State rival might sting most.

Even Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, told of Obama's comments, joined in the fun.

"I know there's a lot of time in the day, but I'd be more confident if he didn't know what was going on in the NBA," Van Gundy said, chuckling about Obama's remarks. "We got to get some people back to work. I don't think he needs to be worried about turning the Heat around. Let (Heat coach) Erik (Spoelstra) worry about that, because Erik certainly isn't turning the economy around."

At this rate, Spoelstra might contribute to the job losses.

The Heat's disappointing start has fueled fodder for the Heat's critics. Even Lakers coach Phil Jackson intimated that Spoelstra's job could be in jeopardy if the Heat don't start winning more - and fast.

Miami's struggles certainly delight its neighbor to the north.

After the Heat acquired James this summer, Magic president of basketball operations Otis Smith questioned the two-time MVP's competitiveness for leaving Cleveland. Heat President Pat Riley then took a shot at Smith's personnel decisions, and Van Gundy - the former Heat coach - fired back at Riley.

This time, Orlando finally responded with its play.

On one stretch late in the fourth quarter, Nelson made back-to-back shots and then came up with one of his best defensive plays of the year. With James and Wade on a 2-on-1 break, Nelson jumped up and swatted James' alley-oop pass to Wade, Nelson drove back down and found Redick for a jumper that put Orlando ahead 95-89.

Nelson also made some big free throws in the final minutes to put away the game. But he was ejected with 39 seconds remaining after receiving his second technical foul of the game, the last for taunting Eddie House.

Not that it mattered.

The Magic had already put their stamp on this one.

"We talked in the huddle that we had worked so hard to win this game and to not let that lead we had built completely slip away," said Redick, who started in place of an injured Vince Carter. "It was a big win."

The Heat, hardly resembling a championship contender, went down 12 points in the first half but managed to keep it close. James was showered with boos - reaching a decibel usually reserved only for Shaquille O'Neal in Orlando - every time he touched the ball, but he and Wade came on strong late to push the Heat ahead 88-87 midway through the fourth quarter.

Then it all fell apart - again.

"We're going through a tough time right now," Spoelstra said. "There's no question about it. The guys want to do it. They want to make it right. Guys are competing, and we just have to go through the process."

The win was huge in more ways than one for the Magic.

They've put the Heat in an early hole deeper than they could've ever imagined, and Miami also has several other concerns - most notably injuries.

Bosh left the game briefly in the first quarter with back spasms and never looked the same; Udonis Haslem's season may be over after surgery this week to repair a torn ligament in his left foot; Mike Miller isn't expected back until after Christmas because of a broken thumb and ligament damage; Wade has been playing through a sprained left wrist; James has been dealing with a shin problem for a couple weeks; and Juwan Howard is playing with a broken nose.

"It will eventually" turn around, Wade said. "Right now it's not. I wish I had the answer to it."

NOTES: Boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. was in the crowd. ... The Heat and Magic don't play again until Feb. 3 in Orlando. ... The Heat and Magic don't play again until Feb. 3 in Orlando.

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DENTON'S ANALYSIS


ORLANDO – Considering the heartbreaking fashion with which the Orlando Magic lost two days earlier maybe it was only fitting that they had to scrap and claw down the stretch on Wednesday night for their biggest victory of the season.

Tied with arch-rival Miami with 4:36 to play, the Magic strung together four straight baskets by guards Jameer Nelson and J.J. Redick and used a game-sealing 12-2 run to smother the Heat and win 104-95 at noisy Amway Center.

The way the Magic (10-4) hung tough in a pressure situation, continued to move the ball and got key defensive stops allowed them to beat a Heat team that continues to plunge downward in a bizarre spiral.

``We did have as many turnovers as we did in San Antonio (on Monday) and we played more composed tonight, especially in the fourth quarter,’’ said Magic star center Dwight Howard, who had 24 points and 18 rebounds. ``We have to continue to do that to win games like this.’’

The Magic’s victory was sweet revenge after they were humiliated 96-70 by the Heat in Miami on Oct. 29. The two teams play next on Feb. 3 in Orlando. They close the season series on March 3 in Miami. Both games, just like the first two meetings, will be nationally televised. But this one, clearly, meant quite a bit to the Magic.

``We just wanted to play them better and learn from our mistakes from that first game,’’ said Nelson, who had the game of his career (17 points and a career-high 14 assists) before a bizarre twist late in the fourth quarter. ``We’re mature enough as a team to understand what went wrong in that first game and get it fixed this time around.’’

A Magic team that shot just 30 percent and had a franchise-worst five assists in the first game against Miami (8-7) a month ago burned the Heat for 51.4 percent shooting, six 3-pointers and 24 assists on Wednesday. And most importantly, the Magic finished much better than they did on Monday when they came unglued down the stretch in San Antonio.

``After the San Antonio game the other night we talked about if we’re going to be one of the elite teams we have to win these type of games against other good teams,’’ said Magic guard J.J. Redick, who scored 20 points while starting in place of the injured Vince Carter. ``We knew they were going to make a run eventually. But we just talked about that we had worked so hard and we deserved to win the game and we couldn’t let the lead completely slip away.

Fortunately, we played well down the stretch.’’ The Magic were without Carter because of a bruised left knee. Carter suffered the injury in the fourth quarter of the Monday night loss in San Antonio on a spinning drive to the hoop.

Miami, the pick by many to win at least 70 games this season, lost a third consecutive game. LeBron James scored 25 points, Chris Bosh chipped in 21 while Dwyane Wade added 18 points.

``We should have high expectations. We have enough talent, enough guys who have been to enough playoff series and been to Finals and won rings, so our expectations should be high,’’ James said. ``It is a little slower than we all thought with this process, but as we continue to play games and practice, it will work out our way.’’

Here’s a look back at what went right, what went wrong and some final observations from the second Sunshine State showdown of the season:

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