For a while there, it was embarrassing for the Miami Heat. Miami fell behind by as many as 11 points to the Orlando Magic, a team that was on an eight-game losing streak headed into Tuesday’s game. At one point, the Heat had made just 3 of 16 attempts from behind the arc.
Fortunately, an NBA game is 48 minutes.
The Heat out-scored the Magic by 24 points in the second half and dominated the fourth quarter 39-21 to beat Orlando 107-89 and improve to 18-16 on the season. Miami’s win also leapfrogged them over the New York Knicks for the eighth seed, and they stand just 1.5 games behind the Detroit Pistons for the fourth seed.
Once again, Wayne Ellington was electric from downtown. The Heat went into the fourth quarter tied with the Magic 68-68, but Ellington knocked down four 3-pointers in the final stanza of play to blow the game wide open. The former UNC Tar Heel finished with 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the 3-point line and grabbed six rebounds. He’s been invaluable for the Heat this season with his shooting.
Tuesday also marked the first time in 13 games Hassan Whiteside suited up and played. The Heat center scored seven points on 3-of-8 shooting from the field and grabbed eight rebounds in 17 minutes. He was a mixed bag offensively — a strong slam early in the third and a nice jump-shot in the second, but a rushed hook shot in the paint on another possession. Of course, it will take time for Whiteside to shake off the rust.
For the first time since opening night, Erik Spoelstra started Whiteside and Kelly Olynyk together. Olynyk, for his part finished with a double-double, scoring 15 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the field and grabbing 12 rebounds. The lineup move reflects Bam Adebayo’s impressive play in Whiteside’s absence, and the rookie continued to play well.
Adebayo scored eight points on 3-of-4 shooting from the field, grabbed nine rebounds and dished out four assists in 25 minutes. The Heat’s 2017 first-round pick showcased his full repertoire — sharp passes in the mid-point, athletic defense and great effort. Look at this defense on Marreese Speights below, knocking the ball away to give Goran Dragic a breakaway layup.
Tyler Johnson and Josh Richardson joined Ellington and Adebayo in turning a close game into a blowout. Richardson scored 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting from the field to go along with seven rebounds and five assists. Johnson, meanwhile, added 17 points, made all six of his attempts from the free-throw line. Miami didn’t miss Dion Waiters because both of them played so well in the fourth.
Although he rested the entire fourth quarter, Dragic contributed to the win with 11 of his 14 points in the third quarter. He struggled in the first half, still playing with a sore left elbow, but sparked the beginning of Miami’s turnaround in this game. The Heat fell down by 10 in the third, but Dragic’s play helped Miami take the lead briefly and end the quarter tied.
The Heat will host the Brooklyn Nets Friday at 8 p.m.