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Heat earn first preseason win with 90-89 home victory vs Magic

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Miami finally breaks through with their first victory in four preseason games.

NBA: Preseason-Orlando Magic at Miami Heat Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t pretty but the Miami Heat held off the feisty Orlando Magic for a 90-89 win to earn their first victory in four preseason games and their first home game. Miami held a 19-point lead in the third quarter but their instate rivals came back to briefly take the lead in the final quarter before order was restored and the win was salvaged.

Once again, Rodney McGruder was the Heat’s most impressive player of the night with superb plays on both ends of the floor while displaying a high basketball IQ combined with relentless hustle and a rapidly developing offensive repertoire. He led the team with 19 points (nine in the fourth quarter) off the bench in 27 minutes, and grabbed eight rebounds (second only to Hassan Whiteside) and tied with Goran Dragic and Tyler Johnson for a team-high five assists.

McGruder’s effect on the team extended well past the numbers on the box score much like Josh Richardson, making his welcome preseason debut and predictably shaking off some considerable rust. Even still, Richardson showed plenty of flashes of the kind of promise that is making the Heat think long and hard about including him in any deal for Jimmy Butler. As a starter, he quickly got to work getting his teammates involved and made some excellent passes even while making some heads up plays on defense. The turnovers and lapses in judgement popped up here and there, but let’s chalk it up to rust in his first preseason action and move along. Tyler Johnson continues to struggle mightily from the field, is it cause for concern already?

The team as a whole is still committing too many turnovers and they turned in a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde performance where they looked really good for long stretches and then revert back to sloppy play and offensive droughts. Goran Dragic was steady throughout and was aggressive on offense, pushing the pace consistently and also looking to get his own shots. Whiteside didn’t get as many shots as he had in previous games and couldn’t do much to stop Heat Killer Nikola Vucevic from having another strong game against Miami, but he did grab 13 rebounds and continues to look active and dialed in.

Miami raced out to another strong performance in the second quarter, outscoring the Magic 32-20 and then piling on by scoring the first nine points of the second half. However, the Magic responded by cutting the lead to single digits. Vucevic scored nine straight points to cut it to 68-64, though Justise Winslow came alive after not attempting a shot in the first half to score seven points in the third quarter.

Orlando finally managed to completely wipe out their 19-point deficit and take a 78-77 lead four minutes into the fourth quarter, setting up a back and forth in the final quarter that featured some welcome regular season intensity.