Magic top Heat 122-99 despite Wade’s big night

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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP)—It’s not too often Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy can crack jokes after watching one of the NBA’s best players have a career game against his team.

Then again, allowing such a performance doesn’t usually come in a blowout win.

Dwight Howard had 32 points and 17 rebounds, and the Magic withstood a career-high 50 points by Dwyane Wade to rout the Miami Heat 122-99 on Sunday.

“My concern is when Dwyane goes into the Hall of Fame and they start putting off his top career games, it’s going to be like 50 versus Orlando,” Van Gundy joked. “We’re going to fill up the entire screen. So, I don’t know what to tell you. When I coached Dwyane I really liked him, but I’m not so sure anymore. Our relationship is strained.”

Hedo Turkoglu had 20 points and Rafer Alston added 12 points and nine assists for the Magic, who have won 12 of the past 15 games against their Sunshine State rival.

Wade was potent from inside and out, scoring with high-flying dunks and soaring jumpers that had even some Magic fans chanting “M-V-P!” Miami’s do-it-all guard had previously scored 48 twice in his career, and had 43 points two times earlier this season.

But the lopsided loss put a damper on his performance.

“It’s great to know you can score 50 points, but it would be better to walk away with a win,” said Wade, who was 17-for-30 shooting from the floor. “It’s bittersweet. No player alone can carry everything.”

He sure tried.

Wade hit a pair of 3-pointers in an 11-4 Heat run to start the third quarter, closing the gap to 68-57. But the Magic would come back with a series of 3s to go ahead 91-72 at the end of the period to offset Wade’s performance.

The Heat never got close in the fourth, and Miami coach Erik Spoelstra cleared most of the bench midway through the period—except for Wade, who was left in until his shot over Courtney Lee gave him 50 points.

“I think he was (aware of it),” Spoelstra said. “Then when I realized it, I had to motion to him, ‘This is it,’ because I was about to put Jamaal (Magloire) back in regardless of what happened.”

Despite Wade’s stellar game, it was the Magic’s newest player that made the biggest difference.

Alston, acquired from Houston last Friday, has taken the ballhandling responsibilities off Orlando’s free-shooting perimeter players. The speedy guard has allowed the Magic to return to their usual rotation and play the up-tempo, pick-and-roll style game that had them looking like real title contenders before All-Star point guard Jameer Nelson tore the labrum in his right shoulder Feb. 2.

Nelson has since had season-ending surgery, and the Magic are counting on Alston to fill the void.

“When you have a dominant center like Dwight, my job is not as tough as it may seem,” Alston said. “But I know it’s tough because we’re a contending team, and the point guard has to be rock solid out there.”

He had them rolling from the start against Miami.

Driving and dishing from all angles, Alston had seven assists and a pair of 3-pointers in the opening quarter. Howard converted a three-point play after a powerful dunk over Wade and Udonis Haslem, the last of 13 straight points by the Magic to open up a 27-12 lead early. Howard’s 15 points in the quarter just about canceled out all the acrobatic shots Wade had en route to 16 points in the period.

For the Heat, their newest members didn’t give them much.

Jermaine O’Neal and Jamario Moon were smothered, combining for just 13 points as the Magic overpowered Miami’s big men to win the rebounding battle 53-28. The pair was acquired from Toronto on Friday, with O’Neal expected to give Miami the inside presence it has lacked since trading Shaquille O’Neal last year.

But matching up against Howard—perhaps the league’s best big man—was too much, and the Heat again leaned heavily on Wade.

“If you can’t be in a game and he scores 50, there’s some concerns,” Spoelstra said. “It’s the level of play. They were sharp and they were playing with great energy at the start and we didn’t match that.”

Notes

A moment of silence was held before the game for Utah Jazz owner Larry Miller, who died Friday. … Magic shooting guard Mickael Pietrus missed the game with a sprained right wrist he suffered in the team’s win Friday night at Charlotte. He’s day to day. … Alston wore his No. 1 jersey after sporting a nameless No. 36 jersey—the emergency uniform the Magic always bring with them on the road—in his first game with Orlando on Friday night. … Miami is 41-37 against Orlando in the regular season. Orlando is 2-1 against their Sunshine State rival this season.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Miami
D. Wade Dwyane Wade
17-30,  50 Pts
5 Rebs, 5 Assists
 Orlando
D. Howard Dwight Howard
11-14,  32 Pts
17 Rebs, 0 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
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Scoreboard

Sunday, Feb 22