Dwight Howard may have played his last game on the Orlando Magic and if that turns out to be the case, he made it memorable. Howard scored 24 points and grabbed 25 rebounds and Jameer Nelson scored two clutch baskets in overtime to give the Magic a 104-98 win over the Miami Heat.
Howard's performance marked only the 29th time since the 1985-86 season that a player had scored 24 or more points with 25 or more rebounds. Tuesday night marked the fourth time in those 29 that Howard has hit that mark.
The Heat threatened to run away from the home team Magic and put the game in their bag by halftime. Having trailed 41-35 into the second quarter, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade checked back into the game, started asserting their will defensively on the Magic and rattled off a 20-0 run to take an 11 point lead into halftime. The Heat held the Magic to a 5-17 shooting quarter, allowing only 15 points through a suffocating half court defense.
It didn't look like much would change in the second half until all at once the Heat started becoming a jump shooting team, the Magic pushed the ball up the floor a little bit to get shots before the Heat defense could come set up and the Magic made a run to get back into the game.
Over an almost 7 1/2 minute stretch, the Heat scored only five points while the Magic rebounded on the offensive glass and got to the line to outscore the Heat by 10 in the third quarter, cutting the lead to one.
After scoring 14 points and dishing six assists in the first half, James really struggled in the second half and overtime, shooting only 2-13 with two assists and three turnovers. Wade was the one who kept the Heat in it, as the Magic continued to attack, getting eight fourth quarter points from Nelson (25 overall) and 10 rebounds from Howard to help chip away.
In overtime, Nelson made his clutch shots, including a crafty reverse layup to put the Magic ahead for good as the rest of the Heat joined LeBron in ice-cold shooting. In overtime alone, the Heat were 2-11 to the Magic's 3-6 from the field.
The Heat, who typically see themselves at the line quite a bit per game (third in the league in Free Throw Rate at 32 percent), only visited the line for 11 attempts, a 12 percent rate.
Wade had only attempted 20 three-point shots all year, making a measly three of those attempts, but nearly doubled that total, as he hit two of three against the Magic. That he attempted four and a half times his regular three-point rate for this season typified the Miami offensive approach after halftime.
Wade carried the Heat offense in every quarter but the second, where LeBron took off and then cooled off. Wade scored 28 and Chris Bosh 23 to pace Miami. LeBron had 19, with 14 of those points coming before halftime.
Evan Dunlap from Orlando Pinstriped Post welcomes the return to form of Jameer Nelson, former All-Star:
This was Nelson's first game all season that he has scored more than 20 points, and the closest Nelson has resembled his All-Star form from the 2008-09 season. He was aggressive in driving to the hoop, and his jumper was on, as he connected on 4 of 7 from long range and shot 10 of 16 overall. He added four assists, with two steals, along with four turnovers, in 37 minutes.
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