“We haven’t played with big leads a whole lot,” Van Gundy said.
With an uncustomary offensive outburst led by Eddie Jones, the Heat withstood a late rally to beat the Orlando Magic 112-101 Friday night.
Miami led 84-60 midway through the third quarter and 99-83 with 6 1/2 minutes left. But Orlando trailed just 103-101 before the Heat scored the final nine points, including four on free throws by Jones.
“We did a great job defensively in the last two minutes,” Jones said. “Guys stayed strong and kept battling.”
Jones scored 33 points, Rafer Alston 18 and reserve Malik Allen 14, all season highs. Miami’s 3-pointers were also a season high, and most were uncontested against the zone defense favored by the Magic, who are next-to-last in the NBA in scoring defense.
“For whatever reason, we’ve attacked zones extremely well all year,” Van Gundy said.
The Heat’s point total was a season high, and they topped 100 for just the fourth time.
With rookie point guard Dwyane Wade placed on the injured list before the game because of a wrist injury, Alston made just his fifth start and sank a career-high five 3-pointers.
“The basket looked like the Hudson River,” said Alston, a New York native. “I felt like I could make one from the half-court stripe.”
Drew Gooden had a career-high 29 points for Orlando. Teammate Juwan Howard added 22, but the last-place Magic still lost their third game in a row. It’s their longest losing streak since dropping 19 in a row early in the season.
Miami shook its recent habit of slow starts, tying a franchise record of seven 3-pointers in a quarter—four by Alston—to take a 40-24 lead after one period. The Heat shot 64 percent in their highest-scoring quarter this season.
“The game was lost pretty much in the first quarter,” Orlando coach Johnny Davis said.
The Heat’s highest-scoring half of the season gave them a 65-47 lead. But the Magic outscored the Heat 17-2 to cut the deficit to 86-77 late in the third period.
After Miami rebuilt the margin to 16, McGrady and Gordan Giricek sank back-to-back 3-pointers to make it 99-91 with 5:04 left. Gooden’s three-point play made it 101-97, and he scored again to make it 103-101.
But the Magic were shut out over the final 2:12.
“We crawled our way back,” Gooden said. “A lot of people would have given in. I’m glad we showed some fight. We didn’t just lay down and take abeating.”
The Heat’s Brian Grant was limited to 25 minutes by right knee tendinitis. Teammate Bimbo Coles played just seven minutes because of a thigh bruise. … Gooden required stitches for a cut above the eye. … The crowd included Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Warren Sapp, who wore a Philadelphia Eagles jersey and sat in the front row with Miami Dolphins tight end Randy McMichael. … Miami beat Orlando for the first time since April 17, 2002. The Magic swept the four-game series last year. … Orlando fell to 1-20when trailing at the start of the fourth quarter.