The Miami Heat and the Orlando Magic paid tribute to Kobe Bryant a day after his untimely death by opening their game with a 24-second shot clock violation and an 8-second backcourt violation to the chant of “Kobe”. Then it was immediately time to get to work and play ball, as Kobe no doubt would have wanted, and after a close first half the Heat would put together a dominant second half en route to a 113-92 blowout win against the visiting Magic.
After losing just their second game of the season at the AmericanAirlines Arena to the Los Angeles Clippers, the struggling Magic would still represent a very real threat to the Heat, having won in Miami five times in their last six games here as well as nine out of 12 overall games between the two in-state rivals. Although the Heat played well out of the gate, highlighted by Bam Adebayo’s rapidly improving mid-range jump shot, the Magic soon found their rhythm and would bounce back to trim their deficit to just six points at halftime.
However, the Heat finally were able to play up to the level they have consistently shown versus the rest of the NBA this season against the Magic with a huge 19-2 run to open the third quarter. Their lead grew to as many as 24 points in the third quarter as the Magic players took turns missing shots with the home team showing great energy on defense and capably closing out their shooters, who mostly looked lethargic in the second half.
While Adebayo worked on another career triple-double, his third of the season, with 20 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, it was still a team effort as it’s always been with each of the Heat’s 32 wins. Duncan Robinson knocked down six of nine threes (including a 4-point play in the fourth) for 21 points and Jimmy Butler racked up 19 points and seven assists. Rookie Tyler Herro replaced fellow first-year player Kendrick Nunn in the starting lineup and scored 13 points. Another great sign was seeing Goran Dragic returning to action with 14 points and five assists off the bench. Meanwhile, no Magic player scored more than 13 points tonight.
Another benefit of the large fourth quarter cushion was the extra rest for the starters with the Heat facing the Boston Celtics tomorrow night. Note that the tip-off time for the TNT game has been moved to 8:00pm due to the postponement of tomorrow’s L.A. Clippers at L.A. Lakers game in the aftermath of the tragedy in Los Angeles that claimed the life of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven other victims.