MIAMI (The Sports Xchange) — The Miami Heat returned center Hassan Whiteside to the starting lineup for the first time since Jan. 20, and the move paid off in a 118-96 win over the Orlando Magic on Sunday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.READ MORE: Police Confirm 'Remains Of Female Found' In Search For Missing Andreae Lloyd
It was Miami’s highest scoring game since March 18 against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Whiteside, who had 18 points and 15 rebounds, played each of the previous 29 games as a reserve. To get him back in the lineup, Miami benched Amar’e Stoudemire, who had started 36 consecutive games.
Miami also got double-figure scoring from Luol Deng (20 points), Goran Dragic (19), Dwyane Wade (17) and Gerald Green (15). However, rookie small forward Justise Winslow sustained an ankle injury in the third quarter; the severity was unknown.
Evan Fournier led Orlando with 21 points, and Nikola Vucevic added 19 points and eight rebounds.
The Heat (47-33) are 10-2 in their past 12 home games but now must go on the road to complete the regular season, at the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday and at the Boston Celtics on Wednesday.
Miami is tied with the Celtics for fourth place in the Eastern Conference. The teams are battling to be one of four teams in the East who will have home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.READ MORE: Groups Slam Florida Over Removal Of Anti-Bullying Resource
The Magic (34-46) are out of the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season, the first time that has happened since Orlando’s first four years in the league (1990-93).
Orlando, which has lost 15 of its past 17 games in its series against Miami, was competitive early.
Miami shot 75 percent in the first quarter, including 2-for-4 on 3-pointers but managed just a 31-28 lead. Dragic had 11 points on 5-of-5 shooting, but Miami’s defense allowed Orlando to shoot 50 percent.
There were five lead changes in the first quarter but none in the second as Miami took control, leading by as many as 11 points. Miami forced seven Orlando turnovers in the second quarter and held the Magic to 44.4 percent shooting, taking a 56-49 lead into halftime.
Whiteside scored 12 points in the third quarter as the Heat broke the game open, taking an 89-69 lead into the fourth. Orlando offered little resistance after that.
NOTES: Miami signed 6-foot-2 PG Briante Weber, 23, to a partially guaranteed three-year contract. Weber, undrafted last year out of Virginia Commonwealth, was a three-time Defensive Player of the Year in the Atlantic 10. He spent most of this season in the NBA Development League, but he also made four starts for the Memphis Grizzlies, including a 10-point, 7-assist, 5-rebound effort. … Miami is trying to sign 6-9 SF Dorell Wright, 30, who played in China earlier this season. Wright was Miami’s first-round pick, 19th overall, in 2004 and was a member of the Heat when they won the NBA title in 2006. … Magic SG Victor Oladipo and PF Aaron Gordon are both out due to concussions.MORE NEWS: Jurors Recommend Death Penalty In Orlando Police Killing Case
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