This time, the Orlando Magic started its comeback in plenty of time to beat the Miami Heat.
Down by 24 points in the third quarter, the Magic went on an unbelievable 40-9 run over the next 15 minutes and shocked the Heat, 99-96, on Thursday night in Miami — Orlando’s biggest comeback win of the season, by far.
Jason Richardson scored 24 points for Orlando – 11 of them to kick-start the epic burst. Jameer Nelson scored 12 of his 16 in the second half, and Dwight Howard finished with 14 points and 18 rebounds for the Magic, who trailed 73-49 after a dunk by LeBron James with 8:57 remaining in the third quarter.
They outscored Miami 50-23 the rest of the way.
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“Well, that defies explanation,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said.
Orlando nearly rallied from a 23-point deficit in the final 71/2 minutes when the teams last met early last month, missing a potential game-tying shot in the final seconds that night in Orlando.
So on Thursday, the Magic started rallying much sooner. Miami missed 17 of 22 shots from the field — and an alarming 7 of 8 from the line — during Orlando’s run. Richardson scored 17 points and made all five of his tries from 3-point range during the run.
James scored 29 and Dwyane Wade had 28 for Miami, which trailed 97-96 with 9.6 seconds left. J.J. Redick pushed the lead to three with a pair of free throws, and Chris Bosh — who was not the primary option on the play — and James missed 3-point attempts in the final seconds.
Mike Miller made a 70-footer for Miami just after the halftime buzzer – something that looked inconsequential when the Heat was leading by 18 at the time.
The final margin? Three points.
“We need to keep on pushing through,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “There’s no other way to say it.”