The Miami Heat came into Sunday night's game against the Orlando Magic looking to avenge an overtime loss just a few days prior. That they did. Miami dominated Orlando at both ends early in the game, then got rowdy again in the fourth quarter to weather a Magic comeback and take a 91-81 win.
The Heat opened the game by running their offense through Chris Bosh. Bosh got great position against Orlando's Ryan Anderson and repeatedly scored over and around him. His 12 first-quarter points, combined with superb Heat defense that led to easy buckets the other way (keyed in large part by LeBron James's rebounding and turnover-forcing), built Miami an early double-digit lead.
Orlando nibbled its way back into the game through the second and third quarters. It defended much better around the basket and in transition, slowing Bosh somewhat and stifling Miami's parade of easy fast-break buckets. Orlando actually fought all the way back into the lead in the third quarter on consecutive quick drives by Jason Richardson. The Magic appeared to have some momentum until Miami went on a 7-2 run over the final five minutes of a low-scoring third quarter.
In the fourth, Miami kept up its defensive intensity while Orlando simply couldn't handle Dwyane Wade or the basketball. Wade had 14 of his game-leading 31 points in the fourth, finding the net repeatedly on the move and inside the paint. Despite hot shooting from Quentin "The Other" Richardson, Orlando simply couldn't hang because of a spate of unforced turnovers. The game was pretty much sealed once Shane Battier's three-pointer put Miami up twelve with two minutes remaining.
Those turnovers, as well as poor shooting and a Miami edge on the glass and the free throw line, doomed Orlando on a night when they really couldn't afford mistakes. Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post:
it's true the Magic knocked off Miami in a game earlier this season despite committing 24 turnovers. But in that game, they shot 11-of-28 (39.3 percent) from three-point range and limited Miami to 11 free-throw attempts. In Sunday's game, the Magic shot just 9-of-25 (36 percent) from long distance--with, as noted previously, Richardson doing most of the damage--and put Miami on the line 27 times.
Against the league's elite, my thesis is Orlando can afford to commit a lot of turnovers or foul a bunch and still win, but it can't do both.
Indeed. The Magic made a game of it, but it would have taken a bigger game from Dwight Howard (18 and 11), hotter shooting from outside (9-of-25), or a big effort on the glass and at the line to make up for 18 turnovers. They got none of the above, and the Heat killed 'em for it.