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Sunshine State Showdown: Orlando Magic 108, Miami Heat 102

The Miami Heat put up a good fight in the end but it wasn’t enough to outlast the Orlando Magic in overtime 108-102. After beating the Magic the first two games of the regular season, the Heat had a great chance to win the series 3-1 but were undone in the overtime period with some big time scoring from Rashard Lewis and Vince Carter. Wade and the Heat battled back from a 12-point deficit in the 4th quarter and had a golden opportunity to win it with 3.4 seconds left. But unlike the first matchup between these two teams in Orlando back in November 25th when Michael Beasley won it with a put-back of a Wade missed shot, the Heat could not come with a game-winning possession at the end of regulation. Unfortunately for the Heat the coaching staff could not design a suitable inbounds play to free up a shooter, preferring to simply give the ball to Wade and hoping he would bail them out. At least that’s what the play appeared to be. This continues a disturbing season-long trend where the Heat fail to score on inbound plays after a timeout. Come to think of it, the Heat always seem to get beat on defense during those plays too (Exhibit A: Marcin Gortat’s uncontested dunk directly from an inbound pass in the first quarter). Even though Beasley didn’t show much during the majority of the game, Spoelstra decided to stick with him in the 4th quarter and overtime, a curious move that coach only resorts to if there’s an injury (or foul trouble) to Udonis Haslem or Jermaine O’Neal. Other than a great block on Gortat’s driving layup in the third quarter, a late game basket to give the Heat their last lead in overtime and some clutch free throw shooting Beasley looked sluggish and disinterested through most of the game. It’s possible he’s still not fully recovered from his thigh bruise from earlier in the week or he’s going through a slump but whatever the case is it’s become fashionable lately to label Beasley as "inconsistent". Well, if the coaching staff is going to give Beasley inconsistent minutes through his entire NBA career so far, then what you’re most likely going to get is an inconsistent player. Beasley has never received steady late game minutes so far in his NBA career and has been forced to adjust his college game where he was the undisputed offensive leader of his team to having to play alongside the Heat’s undisputed offensive leader (and then having to be called Tito Jackson by Charles Barkley). The Heat needs to decide what they really want to do with Beasley and construct a reliable and dynamic offensive game next season that compliments Wade and Beasley on the floor at the same time paired with a point guard who actually makes plays for others. Giving the lion’s share of these minutes to Udonis Haslem throughout the season and then putting Beasley sporadically in random games during late game situations and then hoping for the best is not going to cut it. There’s too much talent there and the Heat need his offense badly. Beasley also needs to find ways to help his team win besides just scoring. Case in point, Jermaine O'Neal only had four field goals but had five blocks. The Heat didn’t feel the need to add Jason Williams last summer even though he was lobbying to come back after retirement and the Heat needed a backup for Mario Chalmers. Although the Heat was lucky to get Arroyo later on it’s still frustrating to imagine how much Williams would have helped the Heat given that Chalmers promptly lost his starting job during the regular season, forcing the team to give Rafer Alston a chance. Is there any player as confounding as Chalmers? Not good enough to be a playmaking point guard yet not a pure shooter to be a 2 guard. But on his best days he can make a case for being a solid bench guard for the rest of his career. Wouldn’t most NBA players with as many shot attempts as Vince Carter average the same amount of points? The headline is that he scored 27 points and while some of those points came at crucial points in the game, he accomplished this with 21 shot attempts and was 3 of 10 from the three-point line. If the Magic had lost this game (and were in big danger of doing so) then Carter’s stat line wouldn’t have looked very good viewed in that light. Dwyane Wade: Stop shooting three pointers, especially in late game situations!