UGLIER THAN UGLY
HEAT THWART MAGIC 81-59 WITH DEFENSE
By Rupen Fofaria | Sentinel Staff Writer
Saturday, January 27, 2001 | Home Game
How about $93 million for a bucket? Wait a second, the Orlando Magic tried that already. It didn't work. Perhaps the inebriated fan in Section 102 was right.
The Magic couldn't buy a basket.
That's no jab at Tracy McGrady -- who has proven himself a very sound investment -- but Saturday evening was just plain ugly.
Even for the Miami Heat. That's why this was a ridiculously close game going into the fourth quarter until the Heat used a late run to pull away and win 81-59 before a season-high 16,286 at TD Waterhouse Centre.
But it's hard to say there were any real winners Saturday evening.
"It was really an ugly game to watch," Magic Coach Doc Rivers said. "I'm sorry you guys had to be here."
Although the Magic had been missing shots all game, it was in the second half, and fourth quarter in particular, that the tide turned. The first half was riddled with misses. But the game was still played at the fast pace the Magic prefer. The second half was physical and slow.
"The game came down to this: In the first half we missed shots, layups and wide-open jump shots. But the game was at our pace," Rivers said. "In the second half, the game went back to the Heat's pace and we didn't get any shots anymore. The Heat played terrific defense and we were frustrated."
The Magic scored just 21 points in the second half, including the nine fourth-quarter points that are a Magic season-low for one quarter.
Although McGrady's seven-for-27 night was most glaring, the effort was an all-around letdown. The four starters aside from McGrady scored 15 points. That includes goose eggs from Andrew DeClercq and Mike Miller.
McGrady went seven-for-17 for 17 points in the first half. In the second half, he had merely two points, both free throws.
"I couldn't knock down easy shots," McGrady said. "And frustration settled in. We were taking a beating in the second half. I think we sort of gave up."
Don't let the final score fool you -- although 81 points hardly plays tricks on anybody -- but the Heat had their own troubles. There was one spurt where 37-year-old A.C. Green was their go-to guy during that funk, for crying out loud.
Then came the fourth quarter when Miami began to resemble its we've-won-eight-of-our-last-10 selves. The Heat had shot 30 percent from the floor.
It was that fourth-quarter run that made the difference. With nine minutes left to play, the score was a slim Miami edge, 55-54. Monty Williams was hit with a technical foul after he said he was hit in the face by Tim Hardaway, and the Heat made it 56-54 just before an official's timeout. The game was still for the taking. "When we had the timeout," Rivers said, "I told the guys this one is going to go one way or another. And Miami's happy right now because we're playing at their pace."
Ironically, it was a Magic-like pace with which the Heat performed out of the gates from that timeout that started sending fans home early. Brian Grant, who led the Heat with 18 points and 10 rebounds, scored three consecutive baskets.
"I think they came out and scored four quick points and we hung our heads and lost," Rivers said.
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