What a game for the Miami Heat! Left for road kill after surrendering 66 points on 68% shooting in the first half by the Orlando Magic, Tyler Johnson and Goran Dragic carried the Heat on their backs in the second half for an improbable victory over Orlando.
Johnson scored 27 of his team high 31 points in the second half, 22 of them in the 3rd quarter, while Dragic chipped in 16 points for the half. With the game tied 105-105 and only 2:04 left on the clock Dragic and Johnson combined for 9 points to put Miami up by 114-111 with 24 seconds left in the game. The Heat defense then made two key stops on 26-foot three point attempts by Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier. Three free throw points rounded out the scoring by the Heat for the game win.
The first half was all Orlando with Gordon going 7-8 for 20 points, Fournier 6-7 for 13 points. The Heat were caught ball-watching on numerous transition baskets and trailed at intermission 66-50. Gordon finished the game with 39 points, which was the highest any player scored against Miami this season.
As in the last win over Orlando, the Heat won the contest in the second half. This time Miami put their foot on the pedal to score 67 points after halftime. Crisp ball movement and forcing 12 turnovers by Orlando, 6 by Payton alone, ignited the Heat’s offense. This football pass by Josh Richardson caught the Magic ball-watching.
Best part of this alley-oop?— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) December 31, 2017
RT for pass, LIKE for dunk! pic.twitter.com/11dCc6HIbq
Hassan Whiteside went only 4-11 from the field, but his 4 assists, 13 rebounds and no turnovers or personal fouls spelled W-I-N-N-E-R and a +5 for the game. On the other hand Bam Adebayo had a -7 despite going 3-5, because of his 0 assists, 1 turnover, and 4 personal fouls. Hopefully Hassan will make his new found play-making prowess the norm.
The assists and turnovers were a key to the game as Miami committed only 8 turnovers for the game, while dishing out 24 assists, for a 3-1 ratio. The second half was especially telling as Richardson had 3 and Whiteside 4 in the half. Moving the ball quickly exhausted the Magic, who couldn’t keep up with it, as you could see Orlando being caught flat-footed several times due to Miami’s speed of execution.
Miami enters the New Year in 7th place at 19-17 ahead of the Indiana Pacers, one game behind the Washington Wizards in the loss column, and only two behind the Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks. After the disaster on Friday evening, Miami didn’t find its defensive identity tonight, but supercharged their offense to overcome a 16-point halftime deficit and to squeeze out a win in the last two minutes.