NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, November 25th (All times eastern)
Miami Heat (8-5) at Orlando Magic (11-3), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Orlando Magic will be trying to extend a five-game winning streak and further distance themselves from the Miami Heat when the two Southeast Division rivals square off this evening at Amway Arena.
Orlando maintained its recent successful ways with Sunday's 104-96 victory at Toronto, which followed up an 83-78 road win over Atlantic Division-leading Boston on Friday. Vince Carter led the way in the most recent triumph, with the veteran guard pouring in 24 points and pulling down eight rebounds.
Dwight Howard ended with 17 points and 12 boards and J.J. Redick contributed 19 points off the bench for Orlando, which prevailed despite shooting just 41 percent as a team. Carter and Howard combined to make just 13-of-37 shots from the floor, but the duo sank 15-of-20 free throws on the afternoon.
"I think in the last two games we've done a way better job on the defensive end," Howard said. "All the guys have been real patient. We didn't shoot the ball that well today except for Vince. I like the way we're getting better every day."
Orlando's recent surge has placed the reigning Southeast champions into a first-place tie with the high-flying Atlanta Hawks in the division standings with an 11-3 record. The team has also won three straight outings since All- Star point guard Jameer Nelson was forced to undergo arthroscopic surgery on his left knee that will sideline him until at least mid-December.
Miami currently stands 2 1/2 games behind both the Magic and Hawks with an 8-5 mark and halted a string of three straight losses with a narrow win over New Orleans on Sunday. Udonis Haslem provided the deciding points in the 102-101 decision by hitting a fadeway jumper with 15.4 seconds left to play.
The Heat were down two inside the final minute when Haslem sank a 16-footer to tie the game at 100-100 with 45.7 ticks to go. Hornets rookie Marcus Thornton was then fouled by Dwyane Wade with 35 seconds remaining and hit 1-of-2 shots to give his team a one-point edge.
Haslem then avoided a leaping defender and banked in a jumper to put Miami back in front. New Orleans held for the final shot and David West leaned in from the foul line to release a jumper that bounced off the rim as time expired.
"We needed one [a stop]," said Haslem of the final seconds. "It was an up and down game. We had a couple of opportunities to put them away and to their credit, they kept fighting back. We got a stop when we needed one."
Wade totaled 31 points and Michael Beasley had 17 points with nine rebounds for the Heat, which received 15 points out of Jermaine O'Neal as well.
Miami will be attempting to stop a six-game losing streak at Amway Arena, where the club hasn't won since February 15, 2006. The Magic have dominated this series as of late, notching victories in 12 of the last 13 meetings between these Sunshine State inhabitants.
In addition, Orlando has won three straight overall home tilts and is 6-1 as the host so far this season.
11/25 10:28:52 ET