Recap: Miami Heat 96, Orlando Magic 70 | Magic Basketball

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Oct 30

Recap: Miami Heat 96, Orlando Magic 70

Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images

BOX SCORE

Revenge is a dish best served cold.

After months of the Orlando Magic yapping away and tossing verbal grenades towards the Miami Heat in the offseason, it shouldn’t be too surprising that they got what was coming to them last night. In their regular season home opener in front of a nationally televised audience and a sellout crowd draped in black, the Heat were able to defeat the Magic by the score of 96-70. Dwyane Wade killed Orlando, as he always has in the past, putting up 26 points, six rebounds, and two blocks. LeBron James was the maestro of the destruction, finishing with 15 points, six rebounds, and seven assists. Chris Bosh chipped in with 11 points and 10 rebounds. And the Heat got excellent contributions from the bench. For the Magic, there were only two players that had a pulse when the game mattered — Dwight Howard and Brandon Bass. Howard had 19 points and seven rebounds while dominating in the first half on offense like he never has before. Bass had nine points, six rebounds, but most importantly, he played with excellent energy and effort (one of the few to do that last night) on the defensive side of the ball. It seemed like only Howard and Bass were the players on the Orlando roster that were prepared for Miami’s fury.

The first half of yesterday’s game between the Magic and Heat was everything that people envisioned. It was physical. It was defensive-minded. It was bloody.

When J.J. Redick got popped in the face (below the eye, to be specific) by a James’ elbow as he took a charge and had to get stitches in the locker room to quell the bleeding, he unintentionally served as the sacrificial lamb to christen the rivalry.

It was on.

In the first quarter, Howard was otherworldly. Nearly every prognosticator assumed that Howard would have a field day against Miami’s frontline and he did, but it was the way he scored his points that was most impressive and signaled that perhaps he’s finally evolving into the two-way dominating player that everyone expected him to be when he entered the league back in 2004. Lefty hooks, righty hooks, spin moves, jumpshots, Howard put on a display that had the internet abuzz. After taking a few mid-range jumpers in the first quarter and missing them, Howard began to get in a groove in the second quarter and made a few shots in a row. The footwork, the confidence, Howard had everything going for him and them some.

Schematically speaking, Howard generated many of his points in either 4-out/1-in offensive sets or 3-out/2-in offensive sets (when Bass was in the game). More often than not, the Heat were content to let Howard get his. Instead, it was clear that head coach Erik Spoelstra’s strategy was to shut down the perimeter attack for the Magic.

It worked.

If it wasn’t for Howard’s 19 points in the first half and the contributions from Orlando’s bench, this game would have been over in a hurry. For whatever reason, the Magic rarely ran pick and rolls with Jameer Nelson and Vince Carter. It’s odd because when Nelson and Carer did execute the pick and roll on offense, they were able to get some buckets. Because Orlando went to Howard so much on the low block, it seemed as if the players got complacent because he was having success. Almost every time Howard touched the basketball offensively, he scored. That allowed the Magic to get in a comfort zone that doomed them in the second half.

That was one issue. The other issue is that Orlando’s defense, starting in the third quarter, was not very good. Needless to say, Miami took advantage.

THIRD QUARTER
[11:36] James makes 25-foot three point jumpshot (Arroyo assist)
[10:57] Wade makes 25-foot three point jumpshot
[10:07] Wade makes 26-foot three point jumpshot
[9:45] Bosh makes free throw 2 of 2
[9:17] James makes 13-foot jumpshot
[8:55] James makes 9-foot jumpshot

At the 8:55 mark in the third quarter, head coach Stan Van Gundy took a timeout as the Magic suddenly trailed by 20 points in the blink of an eye.

For Orlando, it was checkmate.

The Heat made it look easy on offense during that timeframe. On James three-point shot, Howard flashed on Bosh along the baseline and double-teamed him. Thus, Bosh kicked the ball out to Carlos Arroyo on the perimeter, who proceeded to make a touch pass to James and allowed him to make a three-pointer in rhythm. On Wade’s back-to-back threes, Carter sagged off of him too much on the perimeter for fear of letting him penetrate into the lane. On Bosh’s free-throw attempts, they came about after James executed a 3/4 pick and roll with him. Lastly, James got his points in the paint from dribble-penetration. It’s the type of offensive display that shows it’s going to be nearly impossible for the Magic to slow down James, Wade, and Bosh.

The scary part in this nightmare is that James, the best player in the NBA, had just 15 points in the game. James was more than content to play the facilitator role on offense for Miami, and the results speak for themselves.

Defensively, the Heat were just as impressive.

Orlando, aside from Howard in the low post, could do little on the perimeter because Miami’s team defense was too suffocating. It’s no secret that James and Wade are two of the best defenders in the league and now that they’re together, the Magic’s shooters could do little to score against them. James, especially, was everywhere on defense. Everywhere. This was a problem for Orlando because at the small forward position, Quentin Richardson and Mickael Pietrus aren’t major threats on offense. Because that is the case, that allowed James to roam on defense and be a disruptive force whenever he wanted to be. Same with Wade when Carter wasn’t on the court.

More can be said about the Magic’s loss but the point is this, the Heat are nearly an impossible matchup to deal with. That’s the reality.

Howard can get his, sure, but it makes no difference when no one else for Orlando is able to generate offense for themselves. In theory, Nelson should have an advantage against Arroyo but he wasn’t aggressive enough. Nelson has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders because he’s the floor general, and the one to generate the necessary ball movement for the Magic to succeed offensively. There was little of that against Miami. Carter had trouble scoring against Wade and as Orlando is currently constructed, there’s almost no way to fix that problem. As mentioned previously, because the Magic don’t have a dynamic scorer at small forward, James can do whatever he wants on defense and provide weak-side help on the likes of Nelson, Carter, Lewis, and Howard if he chooses to do so. Lewis didn’t have much success against Bosh or Udonis Haslem. Whew.

Van Gundy has his work cut out for him to figure out what type of lineup he can trot out there that can score against the Heat. Then Van Gundy has to worry about the possibility of James going nova the next time the two teams meet.

It’s one game and it’s premature to pass judgment on Orlando when they played on a back-to-back, but they got a reality check.

The Heat are going to be a problem.

16 comments
Adolfo
Adolfo

I'll take the advice from all of you guys and calm down... BUT I'll keep my eyes on VC and Lewis... -.-

Billy (slickw143)
Billy (slickw143)

I'm just glad I only got to see the first half of that game. The only memory I carry with me is Dwight dominating in a variety of ways, and the Heat nailing a bunch of long jumpers in the first half while the Magic missed a bunch of long jumpers. I figured those trends wouldn't continue in the second half, but obviously some stuff went down.

We'll see if this becomes a trend the next time we play them. No time to panic now.

Tim James
Tim James

I don't think the Magic are done for, but again I am intrigued by the mental side of the NBA and the narratives. First the Magic say they were embarrassed by the Lakers in the Finals, and decided to get serious. Then they were embarrassed by the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals, and decided to get serious. Now they are embarrassed by the Heat. Are they going to come out tomorrow and tell us they need to play with more energy and effort?

It's not that I don't believe them. I think there's either more to it than the aggression / energy analysts talk about, or it's extremely difficult to maintain that in the face of a blowout. In any case, it's time for the Magic to prove a thing or two again instead of merely talking about getting serious.

Eddy Rivera
Eddy Rivera

@Ian

You're out of your mind if you think Lewis has been robbing the Magic since he joined the team in 2008. I can't think of anyone that has sacrificed more for the sake of winning than him. Orlando wouldn't be where they are right now -- a championship contender -- if it wasn't for his efforts.

He had a bad game. Get over it.

Ian
Ian

am i the only one that see that rashard lewis is the worst player magic has eating away at our salary cap since grant hill? i mean grant hill was at least hurt and we knew we were throwing that money away but there was that sense of hope he could get better.

with rashard lewis. he puts on a jersey every day and robs the team. that guy hasn't contributed to the team 100% since the year we brought him over. thats were i see our missing link is. i know we cant trade him because no one would pick up such and inflated salary but man i hate the guy on a magic jersey.

Rick
Rick

After one game everyone is scared. Damn shame to call yourself Magic fans.

Tyler
Tyler

We need CP3 or Melo, done deal. We have too many shooters and a great post guy. The Celtics and Heat both proved that our system won't win a championship. Period. Know why we lost the game? Lebron and Wade cover way to much ground too fast. Our "hockey assists" never had a chance with how fast those two got back to their men. Make the trade.

Alex
Alex

I agree, Jimbo. Unfortunately, nothing is that easy or simple in the NBA.

Jimbo
Jimbo

I know it's one loss and all but we definitely need a trade for a star. Get either CP3 or Melo. The advantage of CP3 would be that PG is definitely Miami's weak link and CP3 is a top 5 player who would give the Heat some serious fits . The advantage of getting Melo would be that he would make Lebron work HARD on defense and he's always done well against Lebron.

Let's give up Ryan Anderson + Vince Carter + draft picks and even Jameer Nelson (or Redick) to get this done. I'm sick of hearing about Orlando's depth - we need to parlay this depth into some serious firepower.

Ferric
Ferric

After this humiliating loss, I really wonder if this team is a viable championship contender. If the Magic couldn't beat the heat early in the season when they are at their weakest what chance do the Magic have against Miami later when the team has had time to jell?

spacecabooie
spacecabooie

There always seems to be an acceptance by the officials of certain kinds of physicality that is always used against Orlando but in my limited viewing I have never seen the Magic display.

Last night was the most "egregious" example of it, just ahead of the game that featured Big Baby's concusion (which itself was an accident).

The end of one play confirmed for me that our opponents use that kind of physicality in a deliberate manner when, with Orlando running the offense around the right perimeter, having left James at the top of the key and those on the left beginnign to collapse toward the basket, our ball handler made the turn at the baseline line.

James was faced with the possibility of watching a 3 PT from the corner or a baseline drive to the basket. He took off toward the basket down the right side of the box to intercept any drive up the baseline but the shot was instead launched from near the perimiter, near the corner.

The flow that had been headed from the left toward the basket for a rebound stopped when the shot was blocked. But James, with his arms still up, continued runnign toward the baseline with his chest out as if he was simply going to collide with and crush the ball handler and send them with his chest into the stands had teh ball handler tried to drive along the baseline.

Miami was just throwing bodies at the ball and at people, falling at one point on Vince's, legs or Reshard's, near the sideline. It was pretty obvious the Heat had taken a football (or MMA) mentality into the game while the Magic seemed to be surprised - once again - that basketball can be played in any way other then the thrilling, precision, almost delicate way that we like to play.

And Stern seemed to be happy to be able to project homself into an environment in which he had the best of two (or three) sports in one arena. The officials may not be able to see the fouls that this type of physicality must surely bring about - unless D12 is somehow involved.

Even my wife, who played high school basketball in Ukraine, is infatuated with the Hammer, but has seen in person only 3 NBA games in various cities, one of which was from Club section against the Bobcats level and so is still forming her impressions, had as her first words when I called at halftime, "they are bunch of criminals".

What it seems to be comign down to is whether we are going to settly for pretty ball or winn at ALL costs ball.

Fregonassi
Fregonassi

30.3% shooting for the team
13.3% shooting for starters excluding Howard
16.6% from beyond the arc
5 assists (franchise-worst)

Lebron can go nova next time (and if he does so, Wade won't do as much as he did yesterday because both cannot coexist this way) but the Magic won't play like that again.

What we saw yesterday was probably the worst game in Stan Van Gundy era. Bad defensive attitude, bad passing (decision making and execution), bad rebound effort, bad shooting...

This is the first factor that makes me optimistic, because I can't see the team playing like that again. The second is Dwight Howard's offensive game... if he can keep making those jumpshots he is a legit contender for MVP, if not the favorite.

Joey barz
Joey barz

With all due respect for Q, and I am not being sarcastic, but Matt Barnes wouldn't have a let a couple of things happen that happened slide last night.

Adolfo
Adolfo

It was embarrassing and a pain to watch!, as you wrote only Dwight and Bass were present at the game... Carter and Lewis are better than David Copperfield in the art of disappear, they're a shame...!!! I sensed a Magic team with fear, clueless, afraid... I don't know, I'm very disappointed. I know this is the second game of the season, back to back, Miami's good defense, etc... but c'mon, this might be a window to the future...!!! These two guys just vanish in the games that matter!!! I'm pissed...!!! They talked about more effort and being ashamed of what happened last finals, but they're just the same, they're just talking what we want to hear but they're not feeling it...!!!

Jake
Jake

LeBron had 15 pts, not 13 as stated in first paragraph. Nice recap though.