Latest News

Miami Heat overcome big game from Nikola Vucevic, Orlando Magic to end 2012 on high note

Dwyane Wade sustained a bloody nose.

He also got scratched hard under his left eye.

Like the Heat on its end-of-the-year road trip, Wade took his share of bumps and bruises.

But Wade delivered the blow that mattered most Monday night at Amway Center to help the Heat finish 2012 on a positive note.

Wade stole a crosscourt pass by Magic guard J.J. Redick and broke away for an easy dunk with 6.2 seconds left in overtime that sealed a 112-110 comeback victory and snapped the team’s two-game losing streak in front of a Magic franchise-record crowd of 19,311.

“I got hit a few times, but you try to fight and match their energy,” Wade said. “We didn’t want to lose another one and lose the last game going in to the new year.”

Wade made the clutch defensive play, but the Heat fought through another difficult game against an underdog home team — a repeating theme during its four-game trip — missing three of its top players, including Jameer Nelson and Glen Davis.

Magic center Nikola Vucevic had a career game and one of the best all-time against the Heat on the boards.

Vucevic, a second-year player, finished with a career-high 29 rebounds to go along with 20 points. The rebounding output was the highest by an individual against the Heat, surpassing then-Milwaukee center Andrew Bogut’s 27 on Jan. 7, 2011.

Vucevic had 16 rebounds in the first half, making him the first player this season in the NBA to have more than 15 in a half. The number tied the most rebounds allowed by the Heat since Feb. 19, 1994, when Dennis Rodman pulled down 16 while playing for the Spurs.

The Heat was outrebounded 50-33 as a team.

“[Vucevic] is a big guy, and he’s been rebounding the ball pretty well,” Chris Bosh said. “The ball movement was very good, and he was open on the backside a lot. He was getting tip-ins, and once you work your way into a rhythm rebounding wise, you get some easy ones and they start coming to you.”

Collectively, the Heat overcame a deficit as large as 11 in the second half.

LeBron James finished with a game-high 36 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds.

Wade’s gutsy effort in the second half helped him finish with 21 points, despite 3-of-10 shooting from the free-throw line.

Chris Bosh scored the four points that tied the game in regulation at 99 and finished with 22 points on 10-of-15 shooting.

Ray Allen, who had struggled over the past two games, scored 17 points off the bench, shot 3 of 4 from three-point range and made four key steals.

James matched up with Vucevic one-on-one in the closing moments of overtime and scored the go-ahead basket on a drive to the hoop with 1:07 left. James later hit two free throws with 1.5 seconds left.

“This is a winning league,” James said. “It’s not about how close you came to losing or how close you came to winning. We won. I am not discrediting what they did. They played a great game. They have some really good players and some pretty good pieces. We just made one more play than they did.”

Wade got his nose bloodied with 7:31 left in the first quarter when he was hit on the right side of his face by Andrew Nicholson after catching a pass under the basket. Wade wore nose plugs while shooting his free throws and left for the remainder of the quarter.

“No, nothing is broken,” Wade said “I know, I’m good. I’m breathing OK.”

Bosh nearly won the game in regulation, as well.

James drove to the basket and drew a foul on Josh McRoberts with 3.6 seconds to go, but it was a non-shooting foul and only Orlando’s fourth of the quarter. Bosh pulled up for a fadeaway jumper while defended by Vucevic as time expired, but the shot hit the side of the backboard. Bosh believed he had drawn contact, but no foul was called.

The effort gave the Heat (21-8) a 2-2 split on the trip and pushed its road record to 7-6 while dealing the Magic its sixth consecutive defeat.

“We haven’t been playing particularly well on the road, so maybe this will change the dynamic,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Maybe, we’ll have a paradigm shift in 2013 and start playing well on the road.”

Related stories from Miami Herald