NBA Game Summary - Orlando at Miami
Miami, FL (Sports Network) - Jason Richardson drained six three-pointers to fuel a staggering comeback, as the Magic erased a 24-point deficit and held on to down the Heat, 99-96, at American Airlines Arena.
Miami dominated the first half and held a 73-49 lead a few minutes into the third quarter.
But Orlando started to chip away and used an 18-0 run, which started early in the fourth quarter, to build a multiple-possession lead. From there the Magic held on, and by the time LeBron James' potential game-tying three missed in the closing seconds, Orlando had pulled off the second-largest comeback win in team history.
Richardson finished with 24 points, while Dwight Howard ended with 14 points and 18 rebounds in Orlando's fourth consecutive victory. The Magic made 16 of their 29 three-point attempts.
"It was one of those nights where the stars aligned," said Orlando head coach Stan Van Gundy. "We haven't done it in a long time, but tonight we made a lot of shots and they were very conscious of trying to control Dwight."
The win also forced a split in the four-game season series between the Eastern Conference heavyweights.
For the Heat, it was yet another close loss to a good team. They have lost four times in their last eight games, and each setback has come against one of the East's better teams -- Boston, Chicago, New York, and now Orlando. All of those games were decided by five points or fewer.
Miami was coming off Sunday's 91-86 setback to New York, in which it led by as many as 15 points. But the Heat lost to the Knicks after scoring 35 points in the second half, and Thursday's game followed a similar pattern.
The Heat had only 33 points and shot 30 percent in the final two quarters, and that offensive struggle was manifested by the performances of their two biggest stars -- James and Dwyane Wade.
The two combined for 47 points on 18-of-21 shooting in the first half. But in the second, they had only 10 points and Wade didn't make one field goal.
"Guys who guarded them didn't get discouraged about the great first half they had," said Magic point guard Jameer Nelson. "They just continued to play the game...I thought we did a great job helping them."
It all fell apart for the Heat in the fourth quarter, after Chris Bosh's jumper gave them an 82-71 lead 35 seconds in.
Three-point shooting enabled the run, eating up a chunk of the deficit with every make. Richardson sank two in a row before Gilbert Arenas drilled one to make it an 82-82 game. Arenas sank another shot from beyond the arc moments later.
Nelson finished the rally with a jumper, giving the Magic an 89-82 advantage with 6:33 remaining.
Despite the massive turnaround, and despite facing a 96-89 deficit with two minutes remaining, Miami still had a chance to win.
Mike Miller's three-pointer pulled the Heat within four, and Erick Dampier sank two free throws with 44.4 seconds remaining. Nelson had shoved Dampier as he tried to gain rebounding position under the basket, drawing the foul.
A lot of time came off the clock on Orlando's next possession, which became hectic after Quentin Richardson missed a three-point try.
Wade chased the ball as it bounced toward the sideline, and threw it backward over his head as he leapt out of bounds, over a chair. The towering Howard grabbed the ball, dishing to Ryan Anderson.
James stuffed Anderson's layup, but was then called for a foul on Nelson, who made 1-of-2 free throws for a 97-94 edge with 20.4 seconds to play.
At the other end, Wade drove to the basket and met Howard, whose size and position made it impossible for Wade to hoist up a quality shot. But Wade did draw a foul -- which seemed to be delayed -- and made both attempts.
Orlando's J.J. Redick then entered the game for the inbound play, and the move paid off. He received the ball in the backcourt before James fouled him with eight seconds to go. Two Redick free throws later, the Magic again had a three-point lead.
The Heat had several decent options for a long-distance shot, including newcomer Mike Bibby, who signed on Wednesday. But the first person to take a shot was Bosh, a career 29.6 percent shooter from three-point range.
James said that from his angle, Orlando's Hedo Turkoglu took away a pass to Wade in the corner.
"They probably have been scouting us a lot, seeing that we like to throw the ball to the corner to get a look," James said. "[Bosh] broke open and got a good look."
Bosh's attempt from the top of the arc missed, as did James' final try, and no foul was called as the buzzer sounded. Bosh then slammed the ball to the court as the Magic walked off winners, and the Heat walked off with another frustrating loss.
"That's about as tough as it can get," said Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra. "We're being measured right now."