Facing off against an old rival, the Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Miami Heat by the score of 102-89. The Magic were led by the two-headed monster of Dwight Howard and Ryan Anderson. Howard finished the game with 25 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the field (including 7-of-10 from the free-throw line), 24 rebounds, four assists, three steals, and two blocks. Anderson put up 27 points on 8-of-19 shooting from the field (including 5-of-11 from three-point range and 6-of-9 from the free-throw line), 11 rebounds, and three assists. Jameer Nelson had 12 points and three rebounds, while J.J. Redick had 11 points and four assists. For the Heat, it was a lot of Dwyane Wade, some LeBron James, and little else. Wade amassed a game-high 33 points on 15-of-24 shooting from the field. James was relatively quiet for his standards, finishing with 17 points, 10 assists, six rebounds, and three steals. Chris Bosh chipped in with 12 points and nine rebounds. One of the differences in the game is that Orlando got a bit more help from their supporting cast compared to Miami. One of the other differences for the Magic in beating the Heat was that they shot 17-of-42 (40.5 percent) from the three-point line. For Orlando, the 42 three-point attempts was a franchise-record.
Additionally, thanks in large part to Howard and Anderson, the Magic won the rebounding battle. Orlando out-rebounded Miami by a margin of 48-38 (including 17 offensive rebounds). Throughout the game, Howard and Anderson created extra possessions for the Magic on offense and they took advantage, scoring 23 second-chance points. By comparison, the Heat had nine offensive rebounds for nine second-chance points.
That’s a macro-level look at the game.
Looking closer, Howard and Anderson were the two biggest reasons that Orlando was able to come away with a victory.
For Howard, he was unstoppable on offense. One of the few weaknesses that Miami has is that they don’t have the size to combat centers like Howard. Joel Anthony, Dexter Pittman, and Bosh took turns defending Howard and none of them had much success slowing down the big fella. From the opening tip to the final buzzer, the Magic fed Howard the basketball and he went to work. In 4-out/1-in offensive sets, Howard had his righty and lefty hooks working for him on either block. When Howard was getting double-teamed, more often than not, he made the right reads and was able to kick the ball out to teammates on the perimeter for three-pointers.
Defensively, for the most part, Howard’s mere presence deterred the Heat from attacking the rim. As such, that contributed mostly to James and Bosh having quiet nights on offense. James settled for jumpshots, while Bosh had trouble finishing in the paint and having to rely on his jumper to score. Wade had the most success among the trio at getting easy baskets time and again but even then, most of his dunks and layups came in the open court when Orlando’s half-court defense wasn’t set.
During that fateful third quarter, when the Magic held the Heat to 11 points in the period and opened up a comfortable double-digit lead, it was because of their efforts defensively. Granted, Miami seemed to bail Orlando out quite a bit in the quarter by not exhibiting patience and running through their offensive sets, putting up jumpers and praying that they go in. But again, that was only possible because Howard was manning the middle. The Heat should have countered with more post-up opportunities for James and Bosh but didn’t.
For Anderson, he was equally unstoppable on offense, doing most of his damage in the first half by scoring 24 points.
In the first quarter, Anderson got cooking by making two three-point shots on the left wing, finding himself wide-open on both occasions. Anderson also went 1-of-2 from the free-throw line in the period. Then in the second quarter, Anderson played out of his mind.
[11:37] Anderson makes 24-foot three-point jumpshot (Redick assist)
[10:48] Anderson makes free-throw 1 of 2
[10:48] Anderson makes free-throw 2 of 2
[9:33] Anderson makes 20-foot jumpshot (Turkoglu assist)
[7:56] Anderson makes 25-foot three-point jumpshot (Turkoglu assist)
[4:52] Anderson makes tip shot
[4:26] Anderson makes 26-foot three-point jumpshot (Redick assist)
[3:16] Anderson makes free-throw 1 of 2
[3:16] Anderson makes free-throw 2 of 2
On two possessions, the Magic ran staggered pick-and-rolls with Anderson and Glen Davis. Both times, Redick and Hedo Turkoglu passed the basketball to Anderson for a three-pointer. On in the right corner and the other on the left wing. Anderson also mixed in a long two, a tip-in on an offensive rebound, four free-throws (generated after getting fouled twice in the lane), and one more three-point shot in transition on the right wing for good measure. In total, Anderson had 17 points in the period, shooting 5-of-7 from the field (including 3-of-4 from three-point range and 4-of-4 from the free-throw line). It was a dominant quarter for Anderson and left no shadow of a doubt that he’s playing at an All-Star caliber level this season. That this happened against Miami was impressive.
Anderson outplayed Bosh and Udonis Haslem. Howard (despite Wade’s barrage offensively) was the best player on the floor. And lastly, Orlando’s defense in the third quarter was a game-changer, as well as their three-point shooting and rebounding.
Those were the key elements that allowed the Magic to win.
Eddy Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of Magic Basketball. Follow him on Twitter.