ORLANDO FALLS APART IN 99-64 LOSS IN GAME 1
By L.C. Johnson | Sentinel Staff Writer
Thursday, April 24, 1997 | @ MIAMI
Talk about Heat burn.
The Orlando Magic were burnt to a crisp Thursday night while succumbing to the Miami Heat, 99-64, in Game 1 of their best-of-5 Eastern Conference playoff series.
Voshon Lenard hit 8 of 13 field goals - including 6 of 9 on 3-pointers - en route to a game-high 24 points as the Heat destroyed their Atlantic Division rival at Miami Arena.
This loss looms especially bad for Orlando given its previous playoff experiences. Every time the Magic have lost the first game of a playoff series, they've ended up on the short end of a season-ending sweep.
In losing, the Magic tied an NBA record for the fewest points scored in a playoff game. The record was set by Portland last season in a first-round loss to Utah.
The Magic-Heat series resumes Sunday afternoon in Miami before coming to Orlando for what could be the final game of the season Tuesday for Game 3.
"We've been on the other end of these type of games," Magic coach Richie Adubato said. "Now we're going to see what our people are made of."
Despite facing the No. 2-seeded Heat, who won 61 games during the regular season, the seventh-seeded Magic appeared composed and confident in the days leading up to this meeting.
All of that lasted about 10 minutes. By then the Heat had built a 20-point, first-quarter lead and this game was well on its way to becoming an ugly mismatch.
Tim Hardaway had 13 points and 11 assists for Miami and center Alonzo Mourning finished with 12 points, 11 rebounds and 6 blocks as Miami dominated from the opening tip. "They were stunned that we came out that quickly and on fire like that," Hardaway said. "We played all-around good defense and made them take tough shots and earn them."
The Magic got off to a woeful start offensively and Lenard popped in a quick 11 points, most of which came in transition, as Miami jumped out to a 23-9 lead.
The deficit swelled to as much as 29 points in the first half, 45-16, though the Magic eventually cut it to 49-30 at halftime after outscoring the Heat, 20-14, in the second quarter.
Penny Hardaway scored 10 of his 13 points in the first half, during which the Magic shot 29.5 percent from the field. That was improvement from the first quarter.
"They were as shocked as we were, not by the W, but by the score," Penny Hardaway said. "Today's game doesn't exemplify how the series is going to be, I don't think."
Lenard began the second half much like he began the first, scoring the first eight points of the third quarter to trigger a 15-5 run that pushed the lead back to 29 at 64-35. He finished with 11 points in the quarter and Jamal Mashburn added seven.
The Magic ran into trouble early. Having already started the game without injured forward Horace Grant, his replacement, Derek Strong, had to leave after picking up two fouls in the first five minutes.
That wasn't even the worst news for Orlando, which was held to one point during the final five minutes of the quarter. That took some doing. The Magic shot 17.4 percent from the field - 4 of 23 field goals - to trail, 35-10. They shot 40 percent from the free-throw line and looked completely dumbfounded.
Strong was perhaps the lone bright spot for the Magic. He finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Nick Anderson grabbed a team-high 12 rebounds to go along with eight points. He also spent a portion of the night trying to chase down Lenard.
"They have three shooters out there at all times and then they have 'Zo (Mourning) down inside, which spells trouble," Anderson said.
Dennis Scott scored only five points and Rony Seikaly finished with seven points and 10 rebounds.
"Rony is a guy who has to score for us down inside," Adubato said. "He was taking the ball at the basket pretty strong, but you have to give 'Zo a lot of credit."
Mourning scored 10 points in the first quarter as Miami shot 54 percent. The Heat cooled off considerably in the second but still got a big lift from Dan Majerle, who came off the bench to score 10 of his 15 points.
Meanwhile, Seikaly who was 2 of 12 from the field, missed his first 10 field goals before finally scoring on a dunk, which led to a three-point play with 10:22 remaining as the Magic trailed, 77-53.
"They were making a hell of a lot of shots and we didn't make any," Seikaly said. "When there's a lid on the basket like that and you try to fight through it, it gets worse."
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