Magic hope to add to Heat's misery
By BRETT HUSTON
STATS Senior Writer
Some wondered if the Miami Heat would lose six games before the All-Star break, but that's how many the NBA's newest star-studded cast has before Thanksgiving after an embarrassing defeat.
The Orlando Magic have plenty of incentive to add to the Heat's misery.
Miami delivered a 26-point rout of Orlando in the season's opening week, a performance the Magic will be eager to avenge Wednesday night at the Amway Center as they try to hand their Southeast Division rivals a third straight defeat.
As soon as LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade and the Heat (8-6), many speculated whether Miami had a chance to challenge the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls' regular-season record of 72 wins.
That mark is looking safer by the day, particularly after Monday's performance. Wade scored three points on 1-of-13 shooting while nursing a sprained left wrist in the Heat's 93-77 home loss to Indiana, adding insult to injury hours after the team learned Udonis Haslem would be out indefinitely with a torn foot ligament.
"I don't think we anticipated anything like this. We're just going to have to deal with it," Bosh said after posting 21 points and 11 rebounds. "When we came into this situation we all knew that it wasn't going to be an easy road, so we have to just embrace the fact that it's not easy."
The Heat have been outrebounded 95-71 in their consecutive losses to Memphis and Indiana, a disparity that has to have Orlando's Dwight Howard smiling.
James, who has fewer rebounds (eight) than turnovers (10) in the last two games, thinks his new team's problems come down to something less measurable.
"We need to have more fun," said James, averaging a career-high 4.2 turnovers. "We are lacking two things, that is having fun and a little bit of swag right now. We are not playing with the same atmosphere, pride and fun as we did early on in the season when we were playing some good ball."
Miami's best stretch came after its opening-night loss to Boston, a four-game winning streak in which it shot 47.9 percent from 3-point range and outscored opponents by an average of 22.8 points.
The most impressive of those victories came Oct. 29 against Orlando (9-4). Wade scored 26 points in a 96-70 blowout of the Magic, a satisfying win after the Florida foes spent the offseason exchanging verbal barbs.
"They came out, they threw an uppercut, and as a team we kind of went down," Howard said.
Howard had 19 points on 8-of-15 shooting before fouling out, but Orlando's other starters didn't give him much help. Rashard Lewis, Quentin Richardson, Jameer Nelson and Vince Carter combined for 18 points while shooting 4 for 30.
Howard had 26 points and 18 boards Monday in San Antonio, but Orlando couldn't hang on to a three-point lead heading into the fourth quarter. Carter exited midway through the final period with a sprained left knee, the Magic had five turnovers in the final 12 minutes and the Spurs took over to win 106-97 - their 11th straight victory.
"I think these are statement games," Lewis said. "It went down to the wire, but we weren't able to pull it out. Sixteen turnovers against a good team won't get the job done."
Carter's status for this game is uncertain, but Orlando certainly needs him to produce. The Magic are 7-1 when he scores at least 13 points and 2-3 otherwise.
The eight-time All-Star had four points in the loss to Miami last month.
Received 11/23/10 01:10 pm ET