Heat Fall To Magic In OT, 104-98
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ORLANDO (AP) — Dwight Howard had 24 points and 25 rebounds, Jameer Nelson scored 25 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter and overtime, and the Orlando Magic came back to beat the Miami Heat 104-98 Tuesday night.
It was the eighth 20-20 game of the season for Howard and the 40th of his career.
The Magic overcame a 14-point, first-half deficit to win their third straight and fifth in six games.
Dwyane Wade scored 28 points and Chris Bosh 23 for the Heat, who had a three-game winning streak snapped. LeBron James added 19 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists.
The Heat visit Chicago on Wednesday in a matchup of the East’s top teams. Orlando goes to San Antonio for its final game before the trade deadline.
The Magic are surrounded by uncertainty with Thursday’s 3 p.m. EDT deadline looming.
Howard asked for a trade in the preseason and team officials were still mulling whether to honor it or risk him exercising an opt-out clause in his contract this summer and leaving anyway.
Even Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy acknowledged before the game that it had to be on his players’ minds. He shrugged off an ESPN.com report from earlier in the day that Howard had been told by team officials he could decide the fate of Van Gundy and general manager Otis Smith if he signed a contract extension.
“If anybody thinks I care about that, I really don’t give a damn about being fired,” Van Gundy said. “That doesn’t concern me in the least. … If they want to fire me to please somebody, fire me.”
The speculation didn’t wind up affecting their intensity in what could have been Howard’s final home game in a Magic jersey.
Howard scored the first basket of the extra frame and Orlando took a 100-96 lead on Nelson’s running layup. Following an offensive foul on Mario Chalmers, Nelson scored again on a twisting layup in the lane to increase it to six with under a minute left.
Wade trimmed it back to four and Howard missed a pair of free throws on the Magic’s next possession to give the Heat hope with 26 seconds to play.
Wade missed a 3-pointer from the top of the key and Howard was fouled again. He missed two more free throws, but James also came up empty on a 3-point try.
After blowing the lead, the Heat went back up 91-89 when Wade hit a 20-footer. Hedo Turkoglu tied it with a jumper of his own on the next possession and Nelson’s 3-pointer a few trips later made it 94-91 with 44 seconds left.
The Heat weren’t done, though, thanks to Wade’s 3 from the corner coming out of a timeout.
Nelson wound down the shot clock on Orlando’s next touch, but missed a jumper.
Wade did the same on the Heat’s final possession of regulation before seeing his jumper rim out as time expired.
The Magic started quickly and built their biggest lead of the first half at 36-29 early in the second quarter.
It didn’t last, though, as the Heat closed the half on a 27-9 run that included the Magic going 2 for 11 from the field and committing six turnovers. Frustration showed at times for Orlando, with Quentin Richardson receiving both a technical and flagrant foul within a two-minute stretch.
James had nine points during the spurt for Miami, with James Jones scoring eight.
Howard went 6 for 6 in the first quarter, but missed his only field goal attempt in the second. The Magic were just 5 of 17 from the field as a team in the period after going 12 for 17 (70 percent) in the opening 12 minutes.
(© 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)