The Orlando Magic stormed back from a 24-point deficit in the third quarter en route to a 99-96 shock victory over the Miami Heat on Thursday at the American Airlines Arena.
Jason Richardson powered the rally with 24 points, including six three pointers, for Orlando who orchestrated their biggest comeback of the season.
Dwight Howard finished with 14 points and 18 rebounds and Jameer Nelson scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half for the Magic who used an 18-0 run to chip away at the Miami lead.
LeBron James missed a potential game-tying three point shot in the closing seconds for the Heat who dominated the first half and looked on course for an easy win as they held a 73-49 early in the third.
“Well, that defies explanation,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said.
“Even six minutes into the second half, we just looked down and out. We didn’t have any way to stop ’em,” he said.
“It was a great comeback. It’s probably one of those games that I’ll remember 10 years from now. When I’ve forgotten everything else except all the losses. This is one win I might remember,” Van Gundy said.
The win was the fourth straight for the Magic who are now just three-and-a-half games behind Miami in the Southeast Division standings.
The Heat are now two games behind the Boston Celtics for the top record in the Eastern Conference.
The last time the Heat and Magic met, Orlando almost came back from a 23-point hole but missed a potential game-tying shot in the final seconds to allow Miami to escape.
This time the outcome was different as the Heat missed seven of eight free throws during Orlando’s fourth-quarter run. Ryan Anderson scored 15 points and Gilbert Arenas added 11, including a pair of key three-pointers in the fourth.
James finished with 29 points and Dwyane Wade had 28 for the Heat, who fell behind 97-96 with nine seconds left.
Both Chris Bosh and James missed three pointers in the closing moments.
“We’re being measured right now. We need to keep on pushing through,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “There’s no other way to say it. The tide turned.”
The Magic win also results in a split in the four-game season series between the Eastern Conference rivals.
Miami are making a habit lately of blowing big leads. They were coming off Sunday’s 91-86 loss to the New York Knicks.
They led by as much as 15 points in that one, but lost to the Knicks after scoring 35 points in the second half.
NUGGETS 103, JAZZ 101
At Salt Lake City, Aaron Afflalo shook off a sore ankle to score 19 points, including a 3-pointer with 11.4 seconds to play to help Denver hold on against Utah.
Ty Lawson scored 22 points, and Nene and Chris Andersen each added 13 to give the Nuggets their fifth win in six games since the deal that sent Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups to New York.
The Jazz had an unlikely chance to send the game into overtime, but Andrei Kirilenko fumbled the ball away as the buzzer sounded.
C.J. Miles had 22 points, and Devin Harris had 21 points and nine assists for Utah, who lost their seventh straight at home — the team’s worst home skid since 1982.
The Jazz fell to 1-6 under new coach Ty Corbin.
‘GREAT EVENING‘: In the women’s singles in Rome, Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova advanced, while Rafael Nadal swept into the quarters in the men’s singles Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Friday had to dig deep to advance to the semi-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. The top seeds, who did not drop a game in their opening match on the clay courts at the Foro Italico, battled to a 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 victory over sixth seeds Veronika Kudermetova and Katerina Siniakova in 1 hour, 39 minutes. The reigning Wimbledon champions saved nine of 11 break points and converted three of eight, winning 56 percent of points on their second serve and sending down two aces
’SO CONSISTENT’: The victory gave the world No. 1 and world No. 2 a 21-1 win-loss record and their fourth title of the season after successes in Brisbane, Dubai and Doha Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Sunday cruised to their fourth women’s doubles title of the season at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome in their first tournament back since the suspension of the WTA Tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The top seeds took just 63 minutes to complete a comprehensive 6-2, 6-2 victory over unseeded German-Romanian duo Anna-Lena Friedsam and Raluca Olaru at the Foro Italico. It was the Taiwanese-Czech pairing’s first outing since they won the Qatar Open in February. “After five months, you don’t know what to expect,” Strycova told the WTA Web site.
‘FUN TIME’: Denver’s Nikola Jokic said that his team would not accept that anyone else is better than them and the opposition need to play much better than they do Just about everyone had LA versus LA written in for the NBA’s Western Conference finals, but the resilient Denver Nuggets have crashed the party. Behind Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets advanced to the conference finals for the first time since 2009 to face LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. Game 1 is scheduled to be played tomorrow. This was no ordinary road. The Nuggets fell behind 3-1 in their first-round series against the Utah Jazz before bouncing back with three straight victories. Then they went down 3-1 to the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round before winning in Game 7
‘GREAT COMPETITOR’: Former French Open champion Garbine Muguruza was tested by American teenager Coco Gauff, before the Spaniard advanced in three sets Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Thursday cruised into the quarter-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia by handing their Japanese opponents a rare “double bagel,” a feat matched by US Open losing finalist Victoria Azarenka in the women’s singles. Top seeds Hsieh and Strycova took just 49 minutes to see off the challenge of Japanese duo Nao Hibino and Makoto Ninomiya 6-0, 6-0 on the clay courts at the Foro Italico in Rome. The Taiwanese-Czech duo saved both break points they faced and converted six of 14, winning 62 percent of their first