Going into Friday night’s game in Miami against the Heat, it was bad enough that the Magic had lost five straight games. Part of the reason for their struggles has been the absence of center Nikola Vucevic for weeks.
Before the game, word came that Victor Oladipo would also miss the game with a wrist injury. Again, the Magic put up a good fight for a half, but did not have the tools to pull an upset and fell to the Heat 108-97.
The Magic led at the end of the first quarter, 31-28. Miami led 47-41 with 5:18 left in the half, but the Magic closed with a 16-7 run to take a 57-54 lead into the half time locker room.
The third quarter, like it has been on a few occasions this season, was a nightmare. Orlando led 60-56 just 90 seconds in to the second half and stayed in contact with Miami for most of the period.
The Heat led 73-69 with less than four minutes remaining in the period, but Miami held the Magic scoreless for the rest of the quarter and took an 85-69 lead into the fourth period. Coach Scott Skiles knew that stretch was the key to the game.
“We let go of the rope again; we’ve done that too much,” said Skiles. “We took a three, which was an OK three, then got the ball back took one from about 28 feet and missed, came down on the next possession and took another one. A team like (Miami), the game can get away from you.”
Miami stretched the lead to 99-81 with less than seven minutes remaining in the game. Orlando never got within 10 points the rest of the way.
Evan Fournier led the Magic with 20 points. Andrew Nicholson chipped in with 19 off the bench while Elfrid Payton had 14.
Hassan Whiteside had a huge game off the bench for Miami. The third-year pro had 26 points, 12 rebounds and five blocked shots. Goran Dragic added 22.
With their sixth straight loss, the Magic slipped to 29-43. They are 11-26 on the road this season.
The Chicago Bulls come to the Amway Center on Saturday night.