In their last game, the Miami Heat blew out the New York Knicks by 26 points, yet the only thing anybody seemed to talk about was the black mask LeBron James sported due to a broken nose. The NBA has since requested he switch to a clear mask and that’s what he wore in last night’s showdown against the in-state rival Orlando Magic at American Airlines Arena.
Whether the mask he wore was black or clear didn’t matter, LeBron James had no problem scoring early and often. Orlando had a tough time keeping him out of the lane and he scored easy buckets. The Magic matched everything the Heat did on offense and more, and did so with a balanced attack. The starting five of Jameer Nelson, Victor Oladipo, Moe Harkless, Tobias Harris, and Nikola Vucevic tipped off the game with a high level of intensity and hit the offensive boards hard. A couple of big plays on defense from Harkless also led to some transition baskets.
Orlando was very successful moving the ball, resulting in open jumpers. On the other hand, the Heat were forcing turnovers, as they always do, proving to be the facet the Magic struggled with most in the first half.
James wasn’t the only Heat player coming up big early. Chris Bosh had a strong start with 11 first-quarter points that led to a 32-30 advantage. Rookie guard Oladipo got into early foul trouble, sending him to the bench for a large portion of the first quarter. He was sure to finish the half on a high note with hard-nosed defense and regular drives to the basket. Although he and Harris did a formidable job of getting to the line, the Heat continued to build upon their lead and went into the half with a score of 61-53.
Jameer Nelson was on his game last night as a floor general, hitting the 10-assist mark with over seven minutes remaining in the third quarter. Through his efforts Orlando fought hard to battle back but the Magic saw the gap get wider and wider due to LeBron’s all-around game and the Heat’s ability to execute offensively. The lead ballooned to 16 by the end of the third period and it just seemed like yet another game in which Orlando looks to contend early only to fall apart in the end.
The fourth quarter wasn’t any better as Orlando had a tough time staying within 20 points. In the garbage time of the fourth quarter, Adonis Thomas, the recent D-League signing, got some action for the first time in a Magic uniform. Dewayne Dedmon eventually joined him as well but the final score was all but decided already. The Heat won their ninth straight game against the Magic 112-98.
Magic Game Notes
Tale of two halves
When facing some of the tougher teams in the league Orlando has a trend of competing with and challenging the superior team in the first half and falling apart in the second. Last night was no different. While it’s encouraging to see the young team is able to contend against the most powerful teams in the NBA, it is also a bit frustrating to see that same team lose consistency within the same game.
No stopping the masked man
LeBron James had a LeBron James game, and the Heat won because of it. He was a force to be reckoned with and there was absolutely nothing the Magic could do about it. He finished the game with 20 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists, and 4 steals, without even seeing much action in the fourth quarter.
Kyle O’Quinn elevating his game
Since the departure of Glen Davis, KOQ has really elevated his game. He is playing with a lot more confidence and provides Orlando with some much needed muscle down low. He also has a surprisingly soft touch and mature vision on the block. He posted another double-double with 14 points and 15 rebounds.
Stat of the Night
Adonis Thomas scored the first points of his NBA career.