Heat show depth in blowout vs. Magic
ORLANDO, Fla. -- This is the kind of quality depth that other teams can only dream about.
Although LeBron James led the Miami Heat with 21 points Wednesday night, it was the 17 points by fill-in starter James Jones that provided the exclamation point in an overwhelming 120-92 victory over the Orlando Magic.
For the second consecutive night, the Heat were without All-Star guard Dwyane Wade, who was resting his sore knees. And for the second consecutive night, a different star emerged. Jones, who had played in only two games this season, hit five of his seven 3-point shots to bury the Magic in the third quarter.
The night before, it was reserve Ray Allen who beat the Atlanta Hawks with 17 points.
"It's kind of a pick-your-poison thing," Jones said. "You always have to be ready on this team. I'm blessed to be with this group. A lot of times, the best players are reluctant to give up the ball. That doesn't happen here. Everyone believes in each other, and that makes it fun."
The Heat (9-3) won their fifth consecutive game, dominating almost from start to finish and leaving their starters on the bench for the entire fourth quarter for the second consecutive night.
"It is kind of scary with the depth that we have and how comfortable everyone is with our lineup, our rotations," James said. "Guys here just always stay ready, and this was just another testament to that tonight."
Center Chris Bosh had 18 points and five rebounds. Reserve forward Michael Beasley had 14 points and seven rebounds. Backup center Chris Andersen had 10 points and point guard Mario Chalmers had nine points and eight assists.
"We have professionals in that locker room, but J.J. (James Jones) probably could write the book on professionalism, and keeping yourself ready to play," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We know because of our last three playoff runs, you need depth. You have to have the right kind of guys to have that depth and accept their roles."
Magic guard Arron Afflalo led everyone with 30 points, his third consecutive game with at least 25. He hit 7 of 9 from 3-point range. Rookie guard Victor Oladipo, in his first NBA start, had 20 points but eight turnovers. Guard Jameer Nelson had 17 points and five assists.
"You have to give them credit all around for hitting shots," Afflalo said. "At the end of the day, LeBron does command so much attention, which opens it up for everyone else."
Magic center Nikola Vucevic fouled out with 10:05 remaining, finishing with just six points and six rebounds. In his three games against the Heat last season, Vucevic averaged a surprising 21.7 points and 21 rebounds. The Heat were well prepared to stop him this time.
"They're really good," Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. "After halftime, they made adjustments and they come out and get in fourth and fifth gear. LeBron establishes himself, then they have shooters all around him."
The game was sloppy on both sides. The Heat committed 22 turnovers, which were turned into just 18 points by the Magic. The Magic had 24 turnovers that became 30 points for the Heat.
The Heat overcame the turnovers by shooting 51.4 percent from the field (38 of 74) and 62.5 percent from 3-point range (15 of 24). They also held a 40-25 rebound edge.
The teams play again Saturday night in Miami.
The Heat led by as many as 22 points in third period, taking a 90-71 lead into the fourth. Jones, who started in place of Wade, had 14 points in the third quarter. He hit a trio of 3-pointers in the first five minutes of the second half, adding a fourth late in the third for an 88-66 lead.
The Heat led 54-49 at intermission, despite an uncharacteristic 13 turnovers. They overcame the sloppiness by making 7 of 9 3-point attempts and all nine of their free throws.
The Heat made their first seven field goal attempts to open a 16-0 lead as the Magic missed their first eight shots. The Magic led once in the first half, 32-31, after four consecutive free throws, including three by Nelson.
Things got heated just before halftime. Spoelstra was called for a technical foul after seeing James and Andersen both have their shots blocked on the same possession. Both ended up on the floor with no fouls called.
On the next possession, Chalmers and Afflalo each received technical fouls for some excessive contact after play had stopped.
Afflalo led everyone with 20 points before intermission. He made 6 of 7 3-point attempts. James had 14 points and five rebounds.
NOTES: Heat G Dwayne Wade missed his second consecutive game with soreness in his knee, although coach Erik Spoelstra didn't seem too concerned. "It was best to wait another day. We wanted to make sure that he's getting better, getting stronger," Spoelstra said before the game. "Just part of the plan." Wade is expected to return Saturday when the two teams meet again in Miami. ... Magic rookie G Victor Oladipo, coming off a nine-turnover performance against Dallas, got his first start Wednesday, replacing PF Jason Maxiell. "He (Oladipo) makes things happen," Spoelstra said. "Some good, some not so good." ... The Magic still were without PF Glen Davis, but he has been practicing and is expected to make his season debut in Miami on Saturday. He hasn't played since Jan. 30 after a pair of surgeries on his left foot. ... The Heat went into the game leading the NBA in assists, field goal percentage and forced turnovers.