MIAMI (AP)—Starting a favorable stretch in the schedule, the Miami Heat quickly took advantage.
Already leading the Southeast Division, the Heat play 22 of their final 31 games against teams with losing records. Their next nine games are against teams at least 10 games below .500.
“We can’t say, `We’re not playing the best teams in the league, so we can relax.’ Not at all,” Wade said. “It’s the NBA, so we have to focus on getting better, so we can be as good as we’re going to get by the time the playoffs come.”
Wade, who scored Miami’s final 17 points Sunday in a comeback win over Detroit, again finished strong in less dramatic circumstances. He scored nine straight Heat points to give them a 101-85 lead with 3 minutes left.
Among those enjoying the show were Peyton Manning and Derek Jeter, who sat together in the first row. They were in town to shoot a TV commercial with Wade.
Wade shot 13-for-20 for the Heat, who won despite 20 turnovers to seven for Orlando. Shaquille O’Neal had 25 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks for Miami, still trying to mesh after a major roster shakeup last offseason.
“It is time for us to take advantage of however much time we’ve spent together,” coach Pat Riley said.
The Magic, who never led, have lost nine of their past 10 games. They fell to 6-19 on the road.
Miami has won nine of the past 10 in the series. The teams meet again Wednesday night in Orlando, then begin the All-Star break.
“Another win Wednesday will make us feel great about the way we’re playing,” Wade said.
Hedo Turkoglu, Steve Francis and Keyon Dooling scored 15 points each for the Magic, and Grant Hill had 12 off the bench in 20 minutes. The game was Hill’s second after missing the previous 13 recovering from a sports hernia.
Wade and O’Neal combined for several scores. Wade earned a hug from O’Neal by leaping to catch a long pass on a fast break, spinning in the air and hitting his teammate under the basket for a dunk.
O’Neal made a no-look pass to set up a dunk by Wade.
“They’re as good as any combination in the league—as good as any combination the past 10 years,” Hill said.
“We’re just playing smart basketball,” O’Neal said.
He started fast for the second game in a row, with the Heat repeatedly pounding the ball to him in the low post as he worked against 20-year-old Dwight Howard.
“He’s a tough guy to guard,” Howard said. “Sometimes you can’t do anything about him scoring. You just have to run back down the court.”
In the past two games, O’Neal has totaled 41 points in the first half.
“It’s time for me to start picking it up,” he said. “People are playing me a certain way, and I know what to do and when to do it.”
Miami scored in the final second of each of the first two periods—on baskets by Jason Williams and Antoine Walker—and led 61-52 at halftime. It was 77-62 midway through the third quarter, and at that point Miami was shooting 63 percent.
Orlando missed its first seven shots in the final period, helping Miami pull away to a 92-76 lead. The Magic were never closer than 10 points in the final quarter.
Heat F James Posey and G Gerald Fitch were inactive because of the flu. Posey has started all but seven games. … F Bo Outlaw (knee) was inactive for Orlando. … The Magic fell to 0-17 when trailing at the start of the fourth quarter. … Miami’s Shandon Anderson played only 13 minutes and still fouled out.