With 48 seconds left in regulation of the Miami Heat’s game against the Orlando Magic Tuesday night, Orlando coach Frank Vogel called timeout. Goran Dragic had just sunk a 3 to put the Heat up five points.
From then on, Miami missed multiple opportunities to seal the deal. In double overtime, the Magic won 136-130 — thanks to several missed Miami free throws and botched offensive possessions.
The Heat could’ve won this game in regulation and could’ve done so in the first overtime. After going up nine early in the fourth period, Miami’s offense went stagnant, only managing to launch contested jumpers. Josh Richardson made just one of two free throws with 10 seconds left in the fourth, putting the Heat up two instead of three. Serge Ibaka’s turnaround bank with one second left sent the game to overtime.
In the first overtime, Miami recovered well after Orlando scored the first two baskets of the five-minute stanza of play. The Heat held a four-point lead with 1:24 left to go after a nice spin move and scoop shot from Justise Winslow. Goran Dragic even had three free throws in the final 17 seconds of the first overtime and made only one. The Heat again missed an opportunity to go up three, and two Jeff Green free throws tied the game.
After a bizarre final Heat possession in the first overtime failed to win the game, Miami ran out of gas after two back-breaking Magic 3s courtesy of Serge Ibaka and Evan Fournier in the second overtime.
Miami put together some good play tonight, and even led for a large chunk of the second half. Hassan Whiteside scored a32 points on 14-of-22 shooting from the field, grabbed 15 rebounds and had four blocks. But he missed a crucial, open layup with 2:08 left in regulation off a nice feed from Dragic that would’ve put the Heat up four.
Whiteside wasn’t at fault for his loss, though. And neither was Tyler Johnson (though to be fair, he missed two free throws in overtime). He scored 32 points off the bench, a Heat record. Johnson did it on 13-of-20 shooting from the field and 3-of-5 shooting from downtown. Johnson even had one of his best dunks early in the fourth quarter after seeing an open lane to the basket.
Tonight also represented a step forward for Winslow on the offensive end of the floor. While he still needs to work on his jumper, the second-year forward put himself in advantageous situations to make shots closer to the rim. His aforementioned scoop shot came after a pick-and-roll resulted in the smaller Evan Fournier guarding him. And Winslow caught the ball on the move for his three-point play.
But for every nice play from the Heat, Miami put themselves in a worse position when Dragic pounded the ball for an entire offensive possession late in the fourth quarter, or when Josh Richardson struggled through a 2-for-12 shooting night.
Something as simple as a couple more made free throws would’ve won this game for Miami, but labeling free throws as the reason for this loss obscures a darker picture for the Heat. It’s late December, and the Heat still haven’t gotten to 10 wins. A better team would’ve pulled away in the fourth instead of letting it go down to the wire. At some point, simply keeping games close shouldn’t be enough.