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Heat uses big 4th quarter to overtake Magic

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The Miami Heat put up a big fourth quarter to come from behind and earn a 108-101 victory over the Orlando Magic at the Amway Center on Saturday. The Magic led by 12 at halftime and by 7 entering the final period.

Looking at the stat sheet, it is hard to imagine how the Magic lost the game. They shot 54 percent from the field, including 47 percent from behind the 3-point arc. They had 31 assists, seven steals and committed only nine turnovers.

The answer comes from the all-important statistic of free throws. Both teams were playing hard, yet the Heat were whistled for an incredible total of only 10 fouls.

Orlando had 18 called on them leading to a decisive difference at the foul line. While Orlando could have made more of the chances they had, Miami was 22 of 23 while the Magic were six of 13.

After taking a 24-20 lead after the first quarter, the lead stayed at or near that margin until the Magic closed strong. Leading 49-44, Nikola Vucevic scored from close range followed by two free throws by Evan Fournier. Fournier closed the first half scoring with a 3-pointer that gave the Magic a 56-44 lead at the break.

The Magic extended the lead to 15 early in the third quarter before the Heat began to get back into the game. Dwyane Wade’s 8-footer got Miami to within 66-64 with 4:56 left in the third quarter. Orlando closed the period with a 76-69 lead on a 3-pointer by Victor Oladipo at the buzzer.

That lead lasted little more than three minutes. Gerald Green’s 3-pointer put Miami on top 82-81 with 8:33 remaining. Wade’s jumper with 4:52 left put Miami ahead to stay, 91-89. Elfrid Payton made it 104-101 with 1:06 remaining, but Wade’s four free throws closed the scoring.

Magic Coach Scott Skiles was concerned about the lack of intensity and focus on defense, which led to Miami’s huge fourth quarter.

“When we know exactly what we are supposed to be doing and are watching the game and not doing it, it can be difficult to stop a trend in a game like that,” said Skiles. We were trending in the wrong direction and couldn’t get a stop.”

Wade and Chris Bosh led the Heat with 24 points each, who outscored the Magic 39-25 in the fourth quarter. Goran Dragic added 22. Miami shot 49 percent from the field, including 50 percent (10 of 20) from beyond the 3-point arc.

“We started out the game OK, it was not perfect and we were always late on defense,” said Dragic. “But in the fourth quarter, we locked in and played good defense and we played offense really well.”

The Magic were led in scoring by Vucevic, who had 22 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. Payton added 18 and Tobias Harris had 13.

Orlando slipped to 17-13, one and one-half games behind the division-leading Heat. Miami is 18-11.

The Magic host the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday. The New Jersey Nets come to American Airlines Arena on Tuesday to take on the Heat.

Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at Bob@ramos-sparks.com.

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