The NBA didn’t approve of LeBron James wearing a black mask to protect his face, so he donned a less entertaining version. The result was the same: A good game for the league’s defending MVP, while the Miami Heat won again, having no trouble whatsoever beating the Orlando Magic 112-98.
Dwyane Wade led the scoring in another very efficient display from the shooting guard, scoring 24 points and adding four assists, going 10-of-14 from the field as he continues to focus all his efforts on creating easy chances and scoring from close range.
LeBron James finished with 20 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists and 4 steals while shooting 8-of-12 from the field while Chris Bosh added 17 to make it a 61 point game for the big three, making it a clean four-game sweep over the Orlando Magic in the regular season series.
This wasn’t a complete, four-quarter dominant performance from the Heat, but they didn’t need to. They kept the Magic on 43 points through the third and second quarters while shooting 58.1% from the field throughout the game. Nothing special from beyond the arc or anyone from the bench getting abnormally hot. The Magic simply defended so badly that the Heat didn’t need anything out of the ordinary except looking for plays in the paint, getting 20 assists in the process and 52 points in the paint.
What is interesting in terms of X factors the Heat will have come the playoff is looking at what Michael Beasley and Greg Oden are doing. The Heat missed out on Caron Butler it appears, but if Beasley finds his place and spot off the bench, managing to contribute offensively on a consistent basis, the Heat won’t cry too much about not adding another outside shooter to their long list they’ve established in recent years.
Oden makes for a rarer player for them to count on – an actual 7 foot big man who hasn’t played basketball in over four years, but is turning himself into a reliable backup off the bench. He scored 8 points and added 4 rebounds. The Heat have been very cautious with him so far, but it remains to be seen if he’ll be someone they can count on producing regularly without too much rest come playoff time.
The Orlando Magic? Not the worst team in the East, but not far from it. They’re fun to watch and have been able to pull a few upsets when playing at home, but it’s hard to expect anything from them against teams that take them seriously.
Tobias Harris led the way with 20 points while Nikola Vucevic added a 18-10 double double and Jameer Nelson finished with 11 assists. However, there was no stage after the second quarter in which it felt like the Magic might make a game of this one, in a Floridian rivalry that at the moment is mostly a one-sided affair; almost target practice for the Heat.
The chase after the Pacers is on, with the Heat still one game behind, waiting for Indiana to fall. With the teams playing each other twice more in the remaining month or so this season, it might come to their inner record to determine who finished first in the East.