He was thrilled, however, to land the knockout punch.
Chalmers stripped the ball from Nelson with 8 seconds remaining, ensuring that the Miami Heat—after 10 straight losses to their Sunshine State rivals— would beat the Magic 103-97 on Saturday night.
The Heat wasted every bit of the 15-point lead they carried into the final period, yet still found a way to beat Orlando for the first time since Feb. 15, 2006.
“We were able to turn it around, focus in and get the stops,” Chalmers said.
Dwyane Wade scored 27 points, Chalmers added 20 and Udonis Haslem added 12 points—including two huge baskets down the stretch—for Miami, which finished with four turnovers, an all-time franchise low, to deal Orlando its second straight loss.
“It’s very satisfying to get this one,” Wade said. “We had to prove to ourselves, once again, that we can beat the elite teams.”
Dwight Howard had 22 points and 10 rebounds for Orlando before getting ejected with 1.1 seconds remaining.
But Miami closed with a 9-4 run, fueled by Haslem, and improved to 23-19 on the season. Orlando, which had the NBA’s best record earlier in the week, dropped to 33-10.
“We ended up with what we deserved,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. “In a loss, you can look at certain things that might have happened. In this game, I think it was pretty much a case of not getting it done from start to finish.”
Miami led 56-52 at the break, with Orlando’s starters dominating frontcourt scoring (37-7) and the Heat duo of Wade and Chalmers having a decided edge in backcourt scoring over Courtney Lee and Jameer Nelson (29-6).
Chalmers hit his first six shots in the opening quarter, and the Heat used a 17-8 run to erase an early six-point deficit. Miami held the lead throughout the second quarter, with Wade perfect from the field (3-for-3) and Beasley perfect from the foul line (8-for-8).
Even with Wade on the bench resting up for the finish, Miami’s reserves extended the lead in the third.
Wade checked out with 3:12 left in the third, with Miami leading 73-66. Without him, Miami closed the quarter on an 8-0 run, with Quinn leading the way.
“All year, we’ve been saying our depth is going to help us be a good team,” Wade said. “So big ups to our bench for coming in and helping us get that lead.”
“I thought we had a good shot,” Howard said. “We gave it our all. I don’t think we responded when we had the opportunity without (Wade) out there.”
The Magic had already overcome one 15-point deficit to win on the road this season, that coming Nov. 14 at Dallas, when they were down 71-56 with 6:52 left in the third.
And when Nelson hit the 3-pointer with 2:49 remaining, the margin—just like Magic—was gone. He pumped his right fist, and the game was tied at 94. Miami called time-out, and with the game on the line, it seemed like all Orlando eyes were on Wade.
Maybe they were, because Haslem was almost forgotten.
He scored on each of Miami’s next two possessions, and the Heat held on, sealing the win on Chalmers’ final defensive play.
“We executed, and yeah, it’s a good win for us,” Haslem said. “Says a lot about us.”
Blount played more in the first half alone—8 minutes, 38 seconds— than he had in Miami’s last 26 games combined. Blount’s last playing time came Dec. 14, meaning he’d sat out 18 straight contests. He finished with seven points in 19 minutes. … Lewis missed four minutes of the third quarter after spraining his right thumb, thanks to getting hit inadvertently by Howard as they battled for a rebound. He came back in wearing a blue brace around the joint. … Wade has scored at least 20 points in 14 of his last 15 games against the Magic. … From the hard-to-believe department: Orlando guard Anthony Johnson fouled Quinn three times in a 15-second span early in the fourth—then got a technical foul for arguing the last call.