NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, February 3rd (All times eastern)
Miami Heat (34-14) at Orlando Magic (31-18), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - A pair of Southeast Division rivals from the Sunshine State collide tonight in central Florida, where the star-studded Miami Heat take on the homestanding Orlando Magic from Amway Center.
Miami will play two straight and six of its next eight games on the road, and sports a 16-9 record away from South Beach this season. The Heat, who lead the Magic by 3 1/2 games for first place in the division, have won three straight overall and clobbered Cleveland, 117-90, on Monday behind 34 points from Dwyane Wade and 24 from former Cavs superstar LeBron James.
"I think every team that we play we will get their best, it doesn't matter what their record says," James said. "We're a better ball club, and we knew what we were doing wrong. We just had to continue to wear them down."
Zydrunas Ilgauskas chipped in 12 points and a season-best 14 rebounds for Miami, which built a double-digit lead early thanks to a 17-7 run to close the opening period and is 4-1 in its last five games overall. Wade has posted three straight 30-point games and six in his previous eight. The franchise record is four games, which Wade has done three times previously.
James averaged 30.6 points, 8.4 rebounds and 7.4 assists en route to earning Eastern Conference Player of the Month honors for January. He has scored 20 or more points in 13 straight games. Miami will visit Charlotte before returning home to host both the Clippers and Pacers, then are slated to kick off a four- game trek through Detroit, Boston, Indiana and Toronto.
Orlando, meanwhile, has alternated wins and losses over its last six games and is coming off Monday's tough 100-97 loss in Memphis.
Dwight Howard had 25 points and 14 rebounds, while Jason Richardson scored 18 for the Magic, who committed 17 turnovers for 22 Grizzlies points. Hedo Turkoglu and Brandon Bass both finished with 13 points in defeat.
"We'll (defend) at times. Right now, we're not ready to contend because we don't defend hard enough for long enough," Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy said. "We're going to see if over the next 10 1/2 weeks if it will change. If it does then we have a chance to be as good as anybody and if it doesn't then we don't. It's pretty simple to me."
The Magic are back home where they are 18-6. Guard J.J. Redick is probable for tonight's game with a sore left shoulder.
Miami and Orlando have split a pair of matchups this season, while the Magic are coming off a 104-95 victory in the last meeting on Nov. 24 at Amway Center. Howard had 24 points and 18 boards in that one for Orlando, which has won 15 of the past 19 meetings between the teams.
The Heat have lost eight of nine and nine of their last 11 at Orlando.
02/03 10:37:06 ET