Cohen Courtside: Magic vs. Heat (3/13/12)

By Josh Cohen
March 13, 2012

In Cohen Courtside, Josh Cohen examines the state of the Orlando Magic after games this season. He will tackle sidebar storylines and focus on topics that stretch far beyond the box score. There will also be some analysis on league-wide subjects.


ORLANDO -- This is why we love sports.

This is why at least 75 percent of the world’s population spends half their day talking up the latest “did-you-see-that” highlights and providing their “that-game-was-awesome” commentary.

Tuesday’s Magic-Heat thriller was like the kind of game you would watch in a Hollywood hoops drama.

You know, where every moment in the movie seems illusory and an absurd number of characters turn into some kind of superhero.

Take Dwyane Wade’s last-second shot at the regulation buzzer. The ball spun around in the air for what felt like 20 minutes before finally bouncing off the rim.

Or how about Jameer Nelson and his astonishing performance that practically catapulted the Orlando Magic to an inspirational and exhilarating triumph. For one of his clutch shots in overtime, Nelson essentially whirled and twirled his way to the basket for a reverse layup that resembled the final, most thespian stage of the film.

When you add in all the ambiguity and almost uncomfortable uncertainty facing the franchise, this stirring win felt even more extraordinary.

You have all probably read the myriad of rumors regarding Dwight Howard and perhaps are even more baffled than ever about what will transpire by Thursday’s much-anticipated NBA trade deadline.

But for now, Tuesday’s heart racer allowed us all to rejoice. This kind of back-and-forth affair made it tolerable to block out the indefinite and gave all basketball fans an opportunity to enjoy “basketball” rather than endless speculation.

Beating the Heat is always a major accomplishment, especially when you know the opponent has a foundation as mighty and menacing as Miami’s. Orlando became only the second team this season thus far to defeat the Heat twice (Bucks the other) – a feat that could prove essential if the Sunshine State rivals clash in a seven-game playoff series.

We could elaborate on some of the more dazzling performances from Tuesday – including Nelson and his 25-point masterpiece and Howard and his 24-point, 25-rebound effort. The absence of Jason Richardson (ankle) for a second straight game allowed J.J. Redick to flourish as a starter again and like he has been all season, Ryan Anderson was a bully on the glass with 12 rebounds.

It’s obviously difficult to foresee the future. The decision is coming on Howard – either way – and it’s just something Magic fans must endure for the next two days.

One thing is for sure, however. If the Magic can carry this momentum to San Antonio on Wednesday and overcome the savvy Spurs, they will have won four straight games against the Bulls, Pacers, Heat and Spurs. That is an achievement to not overlook.

Amid all these distractions and, in many ways, annoyances, you have to admire the resilience, determination and spirit from this team. Many squads would have rolled over by now, but not Orlando.

The Amway Center crowd, meanwhile, was vivacious on Tuesday and the energy and effort on the court between these two foes was passionate. It got so intense and nerve racking that if you weren't standing, you probably couldn't see a bit of the action. An Orlando-Miami playoff showdown would be unrivaled, for sure.

When the season is over and we reflect back on the season, Tuesday’s victory over the Heat will likely be at the top of the list for “best, most exciting and most cherished game of the year.”

It just remains to be seen for what reason we most remember it.

Going into the fourth quarter of Tuesday's game, did you think the Magic would beat the Heat?

Going into the fourth quarter of Tuesday's game, did you think the Magic would beat the Heat?

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