The Heat headed into the first of their heavyweight back to back showdown, travelling to Orlando to take on the Magic in an emotion charged Amway Center.
With trade speculation reaching an all time high surrounding Dwight Howard, with the impending trade deadline drawing ever closer, the Magic have reportedly been pursuing every deal possible to try and bring a high profile partner to convince the three time defensive player of the year to stay with the team that drafted him.
Howard openly requested a trade early in the year and it is believed that the Brooklyn Nets are still his ideal landing spot. Orlando have lived in denial ever since his not so shocking admissions, believing they were different to Cleveland, Denver and Toronto and were in a position to keep their star. It seems their efforts have been in vain and it is likely that tonight’s game was his last at home as a Magic player.
He made a lasting impression though.
Howard notched up his second 20/20 performance against the Heat of the season, finishing with 24 points and 25 rebounds in a winning performance. Miami cooled off from a hot first half and found themselves facing a rampant and momentous Magic team that would not be stopped.
Howard shot an unprecedentedly horrible 6/18 from the free throw line, but managed to hit some important ones down the stretch and into overtime.
Miami had a great chance to win the game at the buzzer but Dwyane Wade had his shot fall in and spin out after he stepped back and faded away over JJ Redick.
Wade led the Heat with 28 points, Bosh added a very efficient 23 and LeBron James had 19 points, 11 rebounds and 8 assists.
The key to the game was Orlando’s superior field goal shooting, hitting greater percentages both in and outside the three point line. Ryan Anderson and Dwight Howard recorded 11 offensive rebounds between them as Miami were out rebounded by 10, a statistic they commonly dominate.
The Heat head to Chicago tomorrow to face the Bulls in an Eastern Conference Finals rematch and a preview of what most people believe will be the ECF’s again.