The Miami Heat gave up 57 points to the 29-43 Orlando Magic by halftime. For a team like the Heat fighting for playoff positioning, that's playing with fire. Fortunately, though, the Heat took care of business in the second half.
The Heat dominated the third quarter, outscoring Orlando 31-12 in the period, to run away with a 108-97 victory and get back on track following Wednesday night's disappointing loss to the San Antonio Spurs. As is becoming a pattern these days, the reserve trio of Hassan Whiteside, Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson led the way.
Richardson made two 3s in just over one minute of the third quarter to help the Heat get some breathing room. But Whiteside took over from there, scoring seven points in the final four minutes of the quarter. Miami went from nursing a three-point lead with 5:34 left in the third to commanding a 16-point lead at the end of the period, in large part thanks to those three players. And Miami played well enough in the fourth quarter that Erik Spoelstra could rest Dwyane Wade.
Whiteside feasted on dunks from start to finish, scoring 26 points on 10-of-15 shooting from the field and 6-of-7 shooting from the foul line. Whiteside also grabbed 12 boards and blocked five shots, delivering Miami a stat line that Alonzo Mourning or Shaquille O'Neal would give on a good night. Luol Deng and Goran Dragic found Whiteside for lobs and easy dunks after penetrating into the paint. "The Blocktapus" blocked his first shot just 17 seconds after checking into the game. It was a sign of a big night for the 7-footer.
As far as the Heat's two rookies, Richardson added 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the field, including three made 3s. Richardson has emerged as a much-needed 3-point shooter for this team. (As an aside, Joe Johnson will need to start hitting some come playoff time.) The Heat's 2015 second-round pick also had one of his signature dunks. Winslow shot just 1-for-6 from the field, but grabbed eight boards and offered his usual high energy.
Out of Miami's starters, Goran Dragic performed the best. The Heat's starting point guard scored 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the field, dished out eight assists and collected four steals in 36 minutes. To top it off, Dragic also dunked for the first time this season on a breakaway -- something he couldn't quite do in the Heat's blowout of the Cleveland Cavaliers last week. He missed four free throws, but Dragic's big night was how Miami was able to survive a 2-for-9 shooting night from Wade.
Luol Deng got back to his double-double ways after sitting out the Heat's loss to San Antonio on Wednesday with a thigh bruise. Deng looked to move better than he had in the past, and finished with 10 points, 13 rebounds and five assists. He offered several timely baskets in the fourth quarter that kept Orlando at bay.
The Heat will host the Brooklyn Nets Monday at 7:30 p.m.