by Adam Figman | @afigman
It all looked kinda familiar, no? As if it’s happened before. Miami comes out strong, looks dominant, then the Magic threaten with a little long ball-field run, then the Heat shut them down on the strength of their insanely talented superstars. (You see!) This time, though, down as many as 24 in the third, Orlando’s threes kept falling as the team made its run, and Miami had no answer on either side of the court. Jason Richardson hit bucket after bucket, ending up with 24 points (and 6 threes), while Dwight Howard cleaned up down low with 14 points and 18 rebounds. The Heat had an opportunity to tie it late, but both Chris Bosh (13 points) and LeBron James (29-6-4) missed open looks before the buzzer sounded. (It was reported later that the play was called for Dwyane Wade, but CB found a decent look a launched away.) Orlando now stands at fourth in the East, separated on both sides by 2.5 games; Miami’s still in second, two games back of Boston.
A scrappy, back-and-forth contest before two new-look West squads, this looked over all but wrapped up late in the fourth after Arron Afflalo (19 points) drilled a clutch three to put the Nuggets up two possessions with about 11 ticks to go. But mere seconds later, Devin Harris (21 points) hit a J that put the Jazz down just 2 with around 2 seconds remaining. All Kenyon Martin needed to do was inbound the ball and Denver had the win, but that was apparently easier said than done, because the rock landed right in Andrei Kirilenko’s hands, directly under the hoop. And just when it looked like an easy lay-up would force OT—From that range? With that caliber? Even if you miss, you can’t miss!—AK-47 bobbled the roundball and the clock hit double zeros. Damn. Check the ugly footage below.