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Slumping Magic brace for visit from re-energized Heat

Sportsnaut
Dec 15, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Miami Heat guard Gabe Vincent (2) dribbles the ball against Philadelphia 76ers guard Tyrese Maxey (0) during the fourth quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 15, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Miami Heat guard Gabe Vincent (2) dribbles the ball against Philadelphia 76ers guard Tyrese Maxey (0) during the fourth quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat have a much sunnier view of the NBA’s Sunshine State rivalry than the Orlando Magic.

The Heat look to make it four straight wins over the Magic when they meet Friday night in Orlando. That includes Miami’s 107-90 home victory on Oct. 25 as Jimmy Butler — who has appeared in one game in December because of a tailbone injury — poured in a season-high 36 points.

Miami holds a 71-56 all-time (regular season) series lead against Orlando, which has won only twice in 11 home games this season. The Magic watched their overall losing streak reach six on Wednesday as they trailed nearly the entire way in a 111-99 setback to the visiting Atlanta Hawks.

Orlando was back home following a winless five-game Western Conference road trip, and the Magic opened the game with regulars Mo Bamba (ankle) and Gary Harris (hamstring) sidelined by injury. Atlanta shot 49.4 percent from the field (42-for-85), went 16-for-16 at the free-throw line, and the Hawks’ starting five outscored Orlando’s 70-49.

“We understood what the circumstances were and we gotta make sure that every game we’re going to come in ready to play,” Orlando head coach Jamahl Mosley said after the Atlanta loss. “Make sure we come in ready and prepared for the situation and, again, our guys started out fighting. A couple guys banged up, but, again, we talk about next man up. The opportunity for these other guys coming in and playing.”

Orlando guard R.J. Hampton scored 15 points, making three 3-pointers, in a starting role against Atlanta. Moe Wagner added a season-high 19 points off the bench and Terrence Ross had 18 points and seven rebounds to go along with a career-high eight of the Magic’s 25 assists.

Franz Wagner (10 points) scored in double figures for the 11th straight game and Wendell Carter Jr. had nine points and 15 rebounds. Cole Anthony, Orlando’s top scorer at 19.9 points per game, will look to bounce back on Friday after he had a season-low seven points on 3-for-14 shooting versus the Hawks.

Miami’s roster was even more depleted than Orlando’s on Wednesday. However, the Heat managed a 101-96 victory over the host Philadelphia 76ers for their third win in four games.

The Heat’s three leading scorers this season — Butler, Tyler Herro (quadriceps) and Bam Adebayo (thumb) — were out of the lineup. Caleb Martin also missed his third consecutive game as part of the league’s health and safety protocols.

Gabe Vincent hit seven 3-pointers and scored 26 points against Philadelphia — both career-high marks — and it was his triple with 39.4 seconds remaining that broke a 96-96 tie. Kyle Lowry secured the outcome by making two free throws with 1.2 seconds left, shortly after 76ers center Joel Embiid missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer.

Lowry finished with 14 points, six rebounds and five assists.

Miami’s Duncan Robinson, who like Moe Wagner and Franz Wagner attended the University of Michigan, had 21 points (four 3-pointers) and eight rebounds. P.J Tucker scored 12 points, while Dewayne Dedmon posted 10 points and 14 rebounds for his second double-double in the last three games.

“I really appreciate this team and what they put into the process,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said postgame Wednesday. “They’re not getting caught up in frustration or anything like that. It’s just about solutions and then getting on to the next competition. We knew guys were going to have to step up. We didn’t necessarily know who the X-factors would be; it’s basically our full roster is playing right now.”

–Field Level Media