On a night where LeBron James dealt with a rare off night, the Miami Heat showcased why they’re one of the deepest and most efficient teams in the league.
Despite having James flirt with a season-low for points, scoring 15 points on 5-of-13 shooting, the Heat were still able to shoot 54 percent as a team and score 110 points in a 16-point victory over the Orlando Magic.
Miami was led by 20 points apiece from Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, who converted all nine of his field goal attempts to go along with six rebounds. Wade contributed six rebounds and four assists, while LeBron compensated his low-percentage shooting effort with eight boards and eight dimes.
Bosh has shot better than 50 percent in 11 of his past 12 games. He joined Shaquille O’Neal and Clarence Weatherspoon as the only Heat players to shoot 9-for-9 and is also the only player to have a pair of 9-for-9 shooting performances since the 2007-08 season.
Six of Bosh’s makes came near the basket, while the other three came on 19-20 foot mid-range jumpers.
LeBron missed his first five shots before converting a layup with two minutes left in the first. While he struggled to find his offense, the Heat struggled as a team defending a Magic team that ranks 24th in the league in offensive efficiency and was without starting center Nikola Vucevic.
Behind a flurry of threes from Jameer Nelson, the Heat only took a two-point lead into the half. They built the lead to three early in the third, but the Magic answered with an 8-0 run, capped off by back-to-back threes from Nelson and Victor Oladipo.
After an exchange of two-pointers by LeBron and Arron Afflalo, the Heat would begin to play that brand of basketball they’re famous for, holding the Magic to two points over a three-minute span that turned a three-point deficit into a 14-point lead.
Rashard Lewis, who started in place of Shane Battier, converted an and-one three-pointer to cap off a personal 6-0 run to move Miami’s lead to five. That was then followed by four consecutive points from Bosh, three consecutive points from LeBron, and a layup by Mario Chalmers.
Lewis scored a season-high 18 points in his second start of the season, shooting 6-of-11 overall and 3-of-6 from beyond the arc. He also added four rebounds, three steals, two assists and a block. This comes after failing to register a single minute in Miami’s loss to Golden State.
Rashard wasn’t the only member of the Heat’s bench to step up. Michael Beasley scored 13 points on seven shots, while getting to the line for seven free throws, while Norris Cole recorded eight points and six rebounds.
Orlando would cut the lead to as little as nine, but each attempt at a comeback was muted by a response from Miami. The fact that they were able to keep the game so close for so long was surprising. As usual, though, it took the Heat three minutes of solid effort on both sides of the ball to put the game out of reach.
You know, the usual type of Heat game against an inferior opponent.
The Magic were led by Jameer Nelson’s 21 points and Tobias Harris’s 17 points and 10 rebounds. Those two, as well as Afflalo, all played at least 39 minutes.
This was the Heat’s first double-digit victory since a 19-point win over Sacramento on December 20th. Their past six games have been decided by nine points or less. Three of their past four wins have been decided by three points or less.
They begin one of their easier stretches of the season after they take on one of the league’s hottest teams in Toronto Sunday night to complete a back-to-back. After the Raptors, the Heat play New Orleans at home, before embarking on a six-game road trip.
The schedule-makers did the Heat a favor. They face only one team with a winning record, the Atlanta Hawks, during the road trip, with the other five teams including New York’s pair of disappointments, the Bobcats, Wizards, and 76ers.