- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “When the final buzzer sounded, Jason Richardson clasped both sides of his head. Jameer Nelson pumped his right fist and turned toward Dwight Howard. The two co-captains exchanged high-fives. Coach Stan Van Gundy raised both arms into the air. None of them will forget what their team accomplished Thursday night. Trailing by 24 points several minutes into the third quarter, the Orlando Magic stormed back against the Miami Heat and pulled out a pulse-pounding 99-96 road victory. [...] The announced crowd of 19,600 inside AmericanAirlines Arena and a national television audience watched the Magic complete the second-largest comeback in franchise history and saw a game that once belonged to LeBron James and Dwyane Wade take an unbelievable turn. The Magic, once seemingly out of hope, closed the game on a 40-9 run.”
- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “When shots incredibly started falling in bunches and the defense on LeBron James and Dwyane Wade dramatically rose to suffocating levels, the Orlando Magic’s belief swelled that they could possibly pull off something historic Thursday night. Remarkably, a Magic team given up for dead when it trailed the rival Miami Heat by 18 points at halftime and by as much as 24 points in the second half awoke from its slumber and pulled off a comeback win for the ages. A second half that started as ‘a playing for pride thing,’ as Ryan Anderson put it, morphed into a monumental night as Orlando registered the second greatest comeback in franchise history and shockingly beat the hated Heat 99-96 at American Airlines Arena. Once down 73-49 early in the third quarter, the Magic used runs of 22-7 (to end the third period) and 18-2 (to start the fourth quarter) – a shocking 40-9 spurt in all – for what very well could be the biggest regular-season victory in franchise history.”
- Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post:The 24-point comeback is really something else, isn’t it? To pull that off, on the road, against a team of Miami’s caliber? Appreciate it, sure, but don’t lose sight of the fact that the Magic could have had a less exciting, but probably more meaningful, win had they not trailed by such a big margin in the first place. That entails taking better care of the ball, rotating on defense, and (obviously) making shots. Every game is but one of 82 in theory, but in practice–in the narrative terms in which we define our world–games like tonight’s mean more. So it’s worth noting that in the fourth quarter, with his team needing anything he could provide in order to prevent a near-historic collapse, James took just two shots in 9 minutes, missing them both and going scoreless. Howard scored just 4 points (on 4-of-4 free-throw shooting, without any shot attempts from the field), but blocked three shots and pulled in 10 rebounds. Again, that’s three blocks and 10 rebounds in one period of play for Howard.”
- Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel: “This could have, and perhaps should have, been a night when Erik Spoelstra rested his starters in advance of Friday’s road game against the San Antonio Spurs. When the Miami Heat moved to a 24-point lead early in the third quarter, amid a run of nine consecutive conversions from the field from forward LeBron James, it sure appeared headed that way. Instead, against an opponent capable of making 3-pointers, the Heat not only had to fight to the finish but wound up flailing to the finish of what turned into a disturbing and disheartening 99-96 loss Thursday night to the Orlando Magic at AmericanAirlines Arena, the Heat’s fourth loss in their last eight games. [...] What was a 73-49 Heat lead with 8:47 to play in the third quarter turned into an 82-82 tie with 8:41 to play on a Gilbert Arenas 3-pointer. The Magic completed the comeback on a Ryan Anderson layup with 7:38 to play, for an 84-82 lead, with an Arenas 3-pointer putting Orlando up 87-82 with 7:01 to play, with a cascade of boos following as Spoelstra called time out.”
- Dave Hyde of the Sun-Sentinel: “Well, Mike Bibby is officially a member of the Heat now. He got the big standing ovation upon first entering. He got the kind of open 3-point shot the Heat supporting cast often gets. Bibby then got a first-hand look at what’s wrong in the Heat’s 99-96 loss to Orlando. The Heat blew a 24-point lead. They were outscored by, take your pick, 18-0 or 40-9 by the Magic. Dwyane Wade missed all six of his shots in the second half. LeBron James didn’t score in the fourth quarter. The Heat missed seven of eight from the free-throw line at one point. And we haven’t even got to the radioactively bad part yet. That was the final play. That was the one that could have saved the night. Instead, it piled on the tough questions. Now, granted, the Heat needed a 3-point shot on that play. That made it easier for Orlando to defend. But down three points with 9.6 seconds left in the NBA represents a decent chance.”
- Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald: “LeBron James delivered his message very clearly 90 minutes before tipoff Thursday: ‘It’s about time,’ James said, ‘that we turn it on and play at a high level.’ Unfortunately for the Heat, that high level of play during a terrific first half was followed by a collapse of epic proportions, one that ended in a stunning 99-96 loss to Orlando at AmericanAirlines Arena. [...] Ahead by 18 at halftime and by 24 early in the third quarter, Miami was overwhelmed by an avalanche of Magic three-pointers during a devastating 40-9 Orlando run over much of the third quarter and half of the fourth. Included in that stretch was an 18-0 Magic stampede after the Heat scored the first basket of the fourth quarter. By the time the Magic’s blistering barrage was over, Orlando had surged ahead, 89-82. The Heat went 6:13 without scoring in the fourth before Chris Bosh’s layup with 5:12 left.”
- Israel Gutierrez of The Miami Herald: “Regular season games don’t mean anything. Until they do. This epic Heat collapse means something. You could see it on the face of Erik Spoelstra, who did his best to maintain the calm façade of a coach but couldn’t help but let some of that frustration and aggravation and confusion peek through as he spoke following Thursday’s loss. You could see it and hear it in Chris Bosh, who looked defeated and sounded defiant. What it actually means is yet to be determined. But there are very few games, wins or losses, that resonate like this. Losing a 24-point, second-half lead to the Orlando Magic one game after losing a 15-point lead to the Knicks and three games after losing an 11-point lead to the Bulls — that more than stings. It burns. Bad.”
- Brian Windhorst of The Heat Index: “Each year the NBA teaches there are no absolutes in the regular season, the “playoffs” sticker affixed to the floor in late April having magical powers to erase so many supposed certainties learned over the first 82 games. It is a fundamental truth, but it can also be a crutch. Right now the Miami Heat are using the crutch. But that isn’t the worst part for the team that owned not just championship hopes, but championship expectations. They know they’re clinging to hope and not belief — and that current reality is going down like bitter medicine. Calling the Heat’s 99-96 loss Thursday to the Orlando Magic — in which they blew a 24-point lead — a collapse isn’t really accurate. For a collapse, there must be something strong and towering that falls. The Heat, now more than three-quarters of a season into their fascinating experiment, can’t honestly say they’ve ever fit that description this season. Proper credit must be given to the Magic, who shot their way back into the game by making nine 3-pointers in the second half. They also showed some of their better defense, relying on Dwight Howard to wall off the paint and rebound while their bombers had a great night. Orlando has scored wins over the Oklahoma City Thunder, New York Knicks and now their in-state rivals in less than a week.”
- Michael Wallace of The Heat Index: “Move over, Charlie Sheen. When it comes to spiraling out of control before our very eyes these past few days, dude, you’ve got company. Star-studded company. Miami Heat company. To borrow a line from Scottie Pippen, two-and-a-half players company. Meet LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, the talent core of a team going through another stretch of turbulence. And that’s never a good thing, especially when this latest post-debacle itinerary included boarding a plane after midnight Thursday to San Antonio to face a Spurs team Friday that is sporting the league’s best record. Just like yours, Charlie, the Heat’s show was once the hottest thing going. After Thursday night’s demoralizing 99-96 loss at home to the Orlando Magic, this Miami cast is only crashing and burning. In blowing a 24-point lead over the game’s final 20 minutes, the Heat continued a destructive set of trends that reveal this team is stumbling backward at a time when it was supposed to be storming down the stretch and peaking on the way toward the playoffs. “
I left the sportsbar I was watching the game at with half a Stone IPA yet to be downed. Three minutes into the third quarter I shamlessly gave up on my team in a tyrad of expletives and immature taunting of some random Heat fans. I went home, taught my parakeet some curse words, mixed up White Russian and capped some nubes on Black Ops and passed out on the couch. Having emerged from the fog this morning knowing with some certainty that my Magic were likley on the wrong side of a 40 point blowout didn't last long before I referenced my ESPN app, revealing the shocking final. As happy as I am that they pulled off such a miracle, I'm equally as livid I left a half full beer on the bar while my team sealed the deal. That'll teach me but somthing tells me we'll never witness a similar feet as long as we're fans. damn I'm thirsty!
Hahaha, never give up! You must have thought the beer was half empty when you left! The bartender, taking pity on me, bought me a vodka shot as I had my face buried in my hands sometime early in the 3rd quarter. Then my girlfriend showed up, told me some lame story about her cousin, and all of a sudden we're down 9 to start the 4th! One Richardson's on fire, the other's locking down on D, and the next thing I know we're up 7. I've got the bartender's and regulars rooting with me at this point...awesome! Finish it all off with a celebratory shot of Hennessey.