In a game that saw Miami pick right back up there they left off in Sunday's convincing win over Orlando, it seemed as though this game had the makings of another laugher. Following a somewhat ‘tight' quarter in which the Heat still managed to sneak out with a 10-point lead over the host Magic, for Miami, the best was still yet to come.
The Heat came out on first in the second quarter, coming out on fire and outscoring Orlando 17-2 to open 2nd quarter. That gave Miami their largest lead of the contest, as D-Wade and LeBron each nailed a pair of free throws that put the Heat up 43-20 mid-way through the 2nd. That's when the Magic came storming back and sure enough they went on a 12-4 run and by halftime they had trimmed the deficit down to 15.
After closing the 1st half on a 22-13 run, Orlando opened the 3rd quarter on a 10-2 run to turn a 23-point deficit into just a 6-point one. Certainly the message was out there that if either team was going to win this game (with their regular players) it would have to be done mostly in the 3rd quarter because its highly unlikely that anybody would be out there battling in the 4th quarter of a meaningless preseason game.
The 3rd quarter got a big sloppy from a Heat perspective but they still managed to hold their slim lead throughout. There was one 5-minute segment during the quarter where I thought that neither team could score, and it's not like there weren't all-star caliber players out there. Just a bit of the inevitable sloppy play that is going to come with this shortened level or preseason basketball (or any sport that would be put Into this most difficult decision to maneuver around).
Even thought the Heat started the 4th quarter with a 4-point advantage, the ‘real' part of the game was over. The studs had played the studs and now it was ‘tryout' time for the rest of the overpopulated bench players to get out there and see if they can sneak their way on to a 15-man roster. Miami started the 4th quarter with the lineup Norris Cole, James Jones, Terrel Harris, Udonis Haslem and Juwan Howard. Not exactly the starting 5 you'd expect in a close road game against a very high-powered opponent like Orlando, but hey.... this is what the preseason is for.
Unfortunately it didn't start out so pretty for the 4th quarter Heat guys. They had just one field goal on the board through the first 7 minutes 0f the final quarter, and that came from Mr. Dwyane Wade, who stepped in down the stretch to try and salvage the contest. Unfortunately by then the Heat were already down by 10 points with just under 5 min to go.
The Big 3 made an effort, but when they are getting matched shot for shot by guys like Daniel Orton, Justin Harper, and Chris (yes I'm still in the NBA) Duhon, you know its time to throw in the towel.