(SportsNetwork.com) – The Miami Heat have not played good basketball of late,
but will try to get back on track Saturday night when they meet their Florida
neighbors, the Orlando Magic, at Amway Center.
The Heat, the four-time reigning Eastern Conference champions, have dropped
four of their last five and run the risk of falling under .500 with a loss on
The most recent setback came Thursday night when the Heat got slaughtered at
home by the Los Angeles Clippers, 110-93.
Chris Bosh led the Heat with 28 points in their fourth loss in their third
straight home loss. Shabazz Napier dropped in 17 points, while Mario Chalmers
and Luol Deng each chipped in with 13 points in the setback.
Dwyane Wade missed his fourth straight game due to various injuries and
will not play on Saturday.
Norris Cole dislocated his left middle finger against the Clippers and played
under 10 minutes. He did not return and is doubtful against the Magic.
Los Angeles shot a blistering 68 percent (17-of-25) from the floor over the
first 12 minutes — including 62.5 percent (5-for-8) from deep — and
committed just one turnover, taking a 39-15 lead into the second.
“Not a whole lot to say,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. “That was a blitz in
that first quarter. They played outstanding basketball in that first quarter.”
Thanks to that first-quarter onslaught, the Heat fell to 24th in the NBA in
opponents’ field-goal percentage.
The Magic won for the second time in the last three tries with a 105-100 road
victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night, although Orlando truly
lived up to its name in the second half.
Orlando trailed by 23 points midway through the third quarter and was down
83-65 with under 11 minutes left, then outscored the Hornets 40-17 the rest of
the way to send Charlotte to a fourth consecutive defeat.
Elfrid Payton had eight points down the stretch and fellow reserves Willie
Green and Ben Gordon netted nine each in the final quarter. The Magic also
received 21 overall points from Evan Fournier and a 17-point, 16-rebound
double-double out of Tobias Harris.
“A lot of credit (goes) to Ben Gordon, to Elfrid, Tobias, just the whole group
that was in there,” said Green. “We just made a collective effort that we were
going to just fight to the end.”
Orlando, which shot a sizzling 71.4 percent in the fourth quarter, kept on
charging, with Payton putting the Magic up 97-95 on a pull-up jumper with 1:30
left. Jefferson responded by making two free throws on the other end, but
Green hustled and tipped in a missed foul shot from Payton to send Orlando
back ahead with 57.2 seconds to go.
The Heat have won nine in a row against the Magic and that includes four
straight in Orlando.