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Short-handed Magic blow away Heat, 105-85

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Heat inexplicably falter again in their second straight, double-digit road loss to a sub .500 opponent.

Miami Heat v Orlando Magic Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Over the past three seasons the Orlando Magic have been a thorn in the proverbial side of the Miami Heat. The Heat’s in-state foe has wrestled away a victory in 8 of the last 12 meetings. They captured the season series 3-1 last year. But with Miami off to their best start in years and Heat fans bellowing cheers louder than Magic fans in Amway Arena perhaps things would change of Friday night. Especially considering Orlando was without missing Jonathan Isaac (knee), Michael Carter-Williams (shoulder), and Al-Farouq Aminu (knee).

That appeared to be the case early, Jimmy Butler asserted himself in the 1st quarter with 8 points. His teammates on the other hand didn’t get the memo. Miami started the quarter 1-for-10 from 3-point range and ended it missing 8 of their last 9 shots.

Terrence Ross is routinely a nightmare for Miami, and that continued Friday. He was 3-for-3 from beyond the arc in the quarter. A usually trustworthy bench for the Heat went just 1-for-5 in the quarter and were outscored by Ross himself. It was Butler or bust for the second straight road game.

The Heat had no ball movement or player movement. Everyone seemed to just stand around and watch whoever had the ball go one-on-one. The Magic did a great job clogging the paint and forcing the Heat to hit shots from distance. Miami did not answer the call, building a stone wall around the cup brick by brick.

Miami Heat v Orlando Magic Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

After Miami sank back in a zone, Terrence Ross promptly delivered his fourth 3-pointer of the game. He would finish the half with 18 points. The Magic went on a 17-7 run through the end of the 1st into the 2nd quarter. Spoelstra’s zone worked well against Raptors last night who shot 6-for-42 in Miami but not tonight.

Orlando seemed to simply be playing with more energy and spirit. Miami was behind a step in every aspect of the game. Coming off screens trailing a shooter, rotating to help on defense, and getting to loose balls. Their effort on offense wasn’t much better. The Heat settled and settled for poor shot after painstakingly poor shot. The cast was ice cold from the outside the paint.

Miami couldn’t get anything going inside so the Magic could run them off the three-point line. The Heat bench did try to provide a lift in the 2nd quarter much to no avail.

Nikola Vucevic attacked the middle of Miami’s zone, getting excellent position and capitalizing inside, with 8 of their 17 field goals coming inside the paint. Orlando was also more efficient, executing offense and patiently moving the ball. The Magic assisted on 12 of their 17 first-half baskets, and 13 first half fouls by Miami earned Orlando 16 trips to the free throw line.

Some timely shots by Jimmy Butler kept Miami at a reasonable distance but the Heat only had 44 points when the 2nd quarter buzzer sounded. The sluggish play might’ve been a result of the slugfest Miami withstood on Thursday night.

They trailed 44-56 at the break. Orlando was in charge wire-to-wire.

An 11-3 run to begin the 3rd quarter pushed the lead to 18 points forcing an Erik Spoelstra timeout. Miami had been getting hammered from beyond the arc all night long - a surprise given entering Friday night, Orlando ranked 26th in three-point shooting and the Heat ranked 2nd.

I’m not sure what Erik Spoelstra said to his Heat team during that timeout but it must have woke them up. A 14-2 run sparked by Duncan Robinson’s triples with 8:42 remaining in the 3rd cut the lead to 6 points. In the 3rd quarter Miami finally started to knock down some outside shots. Miami made five three pointers in the quarter.

Miami made some very silly mistakes. After cutting the lead to 4 points following a Meyers Leonard three-pointer, the Heat turned the ball over on back-to-back possessions conceding a Wes Iwundu three-pointer and a Terrence Ross break-away dunk to push the lead back up to nine. Orlando answered every Miami scoring run, matching blow for blow.

Butler, who shoots the third most free throws in the NBA, made his way to the line down the stretch of the 3rd quarter to keep Miami in punching distance. It was the seventh game this season he’s had at least 10 attempts from the stripe. Miami closed the gap at the line, making 10 of their 14 attempts and it was a 5 point game heading into the final frame.

A 16-4 run by Orlando slammed the door on a Miami comeback bid. The Heat would not be able to peel themselves off the canvas. The team scored just four points in 11 minutes of play, shooting a disgraceful 15% from the field.

Jimmy Butler’s flirtation with a triple-double was the lone bright spot for Miami. He led all Heat scorers with 23 points to go alongside 10 rebounds and 7 assists.

Hopefully Miami can get their act together on Sunday when Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers visit AmericanAirlines Arena.