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Heat on target in win over Magic

The SportsXchange

MIAMI -- LeBron James is the top shooting forward in the NBA at 57.9 percent.

Dwyane Wade is the top shooting guard in the league at 55.1 percent from the field.

And Chris Bosh is a center with 3-point range who is among the top 15 overall in field-goal percentage at 53.0, regardless of position.

The efficiency of the Miami Heat's "Big Three" is part of what makes them so special, and that ability was on display Saturday night in a 112-98 win over the Orlando Magic at AmericanAirlines Arena.

"They are the most efficient team in the NBA," Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. "That's done with LeBron setting up people."

With James at the controls, Miami shot 58.1 percent from the floor, never dropping below 52 percent in any quarter.

Not even a change to a clear mask that James wore to protect his broken nose had any effect on the play of the Heat, who extended their win streak to seven games.

James, who complied with the NBA's wishes and discarded the black mask that he debuted Thursday night against the New York Knicks, scored seven points less than his average against the Magic but nearly had a triple-double. He finished with 20 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.

"Both masks protected my nose," James said. "I'm happy to have had a successful game. We're playing at a high level."

With the win, the Heat (42-14) kept pace with the Indiana Pacers, who lead by two games in the battle for the best record in the Eastern Conference.

The Heat have won nine straight in their series against the Magic and are a season-high 28 games above .500.

Bosh (17 points in 18 minutes) and Wade (game-high 24 points on 10-of-14 shooting from the field) also starred for the Heat, who never trailed after the first quarter in a relatively easy victory.

"Wade has reinvented himself," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "He couldn't be the same player he was before the way this team has been put together (with James at the forefront). It's been a steady process of (Wade) developing his post-up and his mid-range games."

The Magic (18-43), who lost for the sixth time in the past eight games, were led by forward Tobias Harris (20 points) and center Nikola Vucevic (18 points, 10 rebounds).

"Tobias can guard multiple guys, post up guys and shoot from the perimeter," Vaughn said. "The versatility he provides (helps)."

Orlando also got 14 points and a career-high 15 rebounds from second-year forward Kyle O'Quinn, who provided a lift in 22 minutes off the bench.

Magic point guard Jameer Nelson was held to three points on 1-of-8 shooting from the field but had a game-high 11 assists and just two turnovers.

Meanwhile, among other highlights for the Heat was the play of reserve center Greg Oden, who had a season-high eight points, all of them in the second quarter.

"That was the first time I've ever played Oden," Vucevic said. "When he's in there, it's a little different."

Another positive for Miami was the defense played by reserve forward Michael Beasley, known more for his offense. On Thursday, he had eight points, four rebounds and a game-high three blocks in 22 minutes.

"He is schooling himself in order to be reliable in our system," Spoelstra said. "He's come a long way."

The Heat struggled defensively in the first quarter, when there were eight lead changes and Orlando shot 54.2 percent from the floor.

But the Heat managed a 32-30 lead after the first quarter, thanks to 11 points by Bosh and overall team shooting of 64.7 percent.

The Heat extended their lead in the second quarter and took at 61-53 advantage into halftime. The Heat shot 58.8 percent from the field and got 10 points from Wade in the second quarter.

Orlando was held to 35 percent shooting from the floor in the second quarter.

Miami put the game away in the third quarter, posting an 89-73 lead. James had 10 points in the quarter and the Heat outshot the Magic 57.1 percent to 31.3 percent from the field.

NOTES: Magic G Arron Afflalo is out with an ankle injury. ... Heat F Shane Battier on F LeBron James wearing a black mask on Thursday, a look that quickly became a fan favorite: "Only LeBron can make breaking your nose look cool." ... The Heat lost out on free-agent Fs Caron Butler and Danny Granger, who chose the Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers, respectively, after they had their contracts bought out by their previous teams. The Heat reportedly were especially interested in Butler, a former Miami player. ... For Magic fans looking ahead to next season, Orlando is currently projected to get the third pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, which could be converted into a player such as Kansas SF Andrew Wiggins, Kentucky PF Julius Randle or Oklahoma State PG Marcus Smart. ... The Heat concludes its three-game homestand on Monday against Charlotte. After that, Miami has a challenging three-game road trip: Houston, San Antonio and Chicago. ... Orlando starts a two-game homestand on Sunday against Philadelphia.
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