Chris Bosh got the Miami Heat started. Dwyane Wade provided the big finish.
Wade scored 14 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter, Bosh made his first six shots and finished with 23 and the Heat held off the Orlando Magic 91-81 on Sunday night for their 13th straight win at home.
LeBron James finished with 14 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists and five steals for the Heat. His pass with 3:46 left made it past two Magic defenders and set up Bosh for perhaps the clincher, a three-point play that stretched Miami’s lead to 84-73.
”He’s the biggest piece of our team,” James said of Bosh. ”And when he’s going, we’re very dangerous. … That’s what it was all about tonight.”
Well, that and defense. Orlando scored 12 points in a span of nearly 16 minutes in the second half, finishing with its lowest point total in 11 games.
”Our effort defensively early in the game was not there,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. ”We did not come to play. That’s inexcusable particularly playing on the road against a team this good and then the 20 turnovers.”
Dwight Howard finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds for Orlando. Quentin Richardson was 5 for 7 on 3-pointers for a 15-point night for the Magic, who split four games with Miami this season, both teams going 2-0 at home.
The win kept Miami (33-11) one game in the loss column behind Chicago (37-10) for the NBA’s best record and top Eastern Conference seed.
It was a 69-68 game before Wade made back-to-back shots to give Miami some breathing room, and the Heat never gave up control again. Wade wound up scoring 12 straight Miami points, and his assist set up Shane Battier’s 3-pointer that made it 87-75 with 2 minutes left.
”I don’t think (Wade) ever had a bad game against us,” Van Gundy said. ”Every game he’s played it’s been a great game. We never do a decent job on him.”
James scored in double digits for his 400th straight regular-season game, a streak beginning Jan. 6, 2007. According to STATS LLC, he became the first player since January 2010 to have at least 14 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists and five steals in a game.
”If I’m not getting it going scoring, it’s time to focus on something else,” James said. ”I try to be a complete basketball player.”
Jameer Nelson scored 13 points and Jason Richardson added 12 for the Magic. After a three-game road trip last week that started by getting outrebounded by 10 in Orlando — then by 16 in Chicago and 12 in Philadelphia — the Heat outrebounded Orlando 42-36.
And they kept Howard in some sort of check: In Orlando’s two wins over Miami this season, Howard averaged 24.5 points and 24.5 rebounds. In the two Heat wins, Howard averaged only 15 points and 13 rebounds.
”It’s the small things that matter in games like this,” Howard said.
Like getting breaks — which Bosh got on his first shot.
His first attempt of the night slipped from his hands, went about two stories in the air and somehow dropped through the net. He wound up making his first six shots, after going a combined 7 for 27 in his previous two games.
”I was kind of like, `Awww, here we go again,”’ Bosh said. ”And it went in. I said, `All right.’ Sometimes you need those, man. I hadn’t gotten one all year. I thank the basketball gods and it was good from then on.”
The Heat made 12 of 18 shots in the first quarter, running out to a 31-22 lead that had Van Gundy lamenting in a television interview between quarters that his team ”didn’t do anything well — nothing.”
His assessment had to change from there, thanks to what Orlando started doing on the defensive end.
It took Miami the next 19-plus minutes to match what it scored in the opening 12, as the Magic steadily made what was as much as a 13-point deficit disappear. The Heat lead was only 50-47 at the break — a three-point play by Wade with inside of a minute left provided that margin — and Miami went on to miss eight straight shots early in the third quarter.
Even then, it was still nip-and-tuck, the Magic unable to take full advantage of the Heat going cold.
Jason Richardson’s basket and foul with 8:26 left in the third gave Orlando what was then its biggest lead, 57-54. Then it was Orlando’s turn to sputter offensively, scoring just six points in the remainder of the period, which was capped by James banking in an 18-footer with just under a second left for a 67-63 Miami lead.
Then Wade gave Miami just enough in the fourth, and the Heat didn’t mind another grind-it-out evening.
”You have to weather a lot of storms when you play the Orlando Magic,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. ”And you have to stay the course.”
Notes: Tennis star Andy Murray sat courtside. … Bosh had 18 points at halftime, matching his second-best opening 24 minutes of the season. The Heat are now 15-2 this season when Bosh is in double digits by halftime. … Heat assistant coach Bob McAdoo (deep vein thrombosis) and reserve center Eddy Curry (death of a grandmother) were back with the team after missing time last week. … Nelson missed about 6 minutes in the first quarter after being inadvertently poked in the eye by Heat center Joel Anthony.