ORLANDO, Fla. —
Vucevic sat his third straight game while dealing with a mild concussion. Vucevic averaged a staggering 22.5 points and 25 rebounds in two games against Miami earlier this season. Compounding the injury issues for Orlando was losing power forward Andrew Nicholson, the team’s first player off the bench Monday, to a sprained left ankle just 1:52 after he checked in for what was the only time.
A 9-2 run early in the third gave Miami what was then its biggest lead, 64-53. Instead of deflating the Magic, it seemed to almost inspire the hosts, who answered with probably their best 5-minute stretch of the game, capped by a 3-pointer by Nelson with 3 minutes left that tied the game at 68-all.
And when James missed a layup at the other end, then got called for a foul after the rebound, Orlando may very well have been thinking that the streak could soon be snapped.
Miami needed only 2 minutes to close the quarter with 10 unanswered points, with James doing either the orchestrating or performing. He got loose on a curl for a dunk to start the run, and the Heat took off.
Chris Andersen — the Heat are now 29-1 when he plays — got Miami the ball with a spectacular block against Maurice Harkless. James then cleared everyone out to drive on Harkless, score and get fouled for a three-point play.
That was part of a rough few moments for the rookie out of St. John’s.
Harkless threw the ball into the sideline seats on Orlando’s next possession, and James found Allen for a 3-pointer. Harkless had another turnover with 19.5 seconds left and then fouled James with 4.2 ticks remaining. James missed both shots, but got his own rebound, was fouled by Harris and made those two ensuing free throws for a 78-68 Miami lead.
The run didn’t stop there. Allen started the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer, pushing Miami’s edge to 81-68 as Orlando’s Beno Udrih — who was 0 for 8 from the field at that point — lay writhing in pain under the basket after apparently being hit in the face.