If the Heat is going to keep playing like this without Dwyane Wade, the team’s starting shooting guard and his weak knees should take as much time as possible before returning to the court.
Wade missed his second game in as many nights due to lingering knee soreness, but it’s not like it much mattered. For the second consecutive night, all five of the Heat’s starters watched a fourth quarter from the bench as Miami’s reserves closed out the Magic in a 120-92 victory.
The Heat (9-3) is now 2-1 in the second nights of back-to-backs this season after a physically difficult stretch of the schedule in the last week.
James Jones once again started for Wade and once again filled in admirably, going 5 of 7 from three-point range and scoring 17 points in just 21 minutes. He was 4 of 5 from three-point range in the third quarter alone to spark the blowout. The Heat outscored the Magic 36-22 in the decisive quarter.
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“He is mentally tough and he always keeps himself busy,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Jones. “He prepares and he doesn’t get wrapped up in things he can’t control, but when his number is called it’s uncanny how it looks like he has been playing in rhythm for weeks when really he hasn’t been.”
Filling in for Wade, Jones went 7 of 10 from three-point range in the Heat’s back-to-back.
“He’s obviously one of the best three-point shooters in the world, and you just try to find him,” Heat forward LeBron James said.
The Heat’s blowout was its largest victory of the season.
The previous high for margin of victory was 23 points against the Bucks to begin Miami’s current five-game winning streak. The Heat continued to pour it on in the fourth quarter after Spoelstra replaced his starters. James and Chris Bosh joked with Wade on the bench in the final period as Michael Beasley poured in 14 points.
Magic center Nikola Vucevic, who averaged 21 rebounds against the Heat last season, had six points and six rebounds before fouling out. Arron Afflalo led the Magic (4-7) with 30 points, going 7 of 9 from three-point range and 9 of 16 overall. Orlando was 15 of 29 from three-point range as a team, but the Heat countered from deep, going 15 of 24.
Norris Cole was 3 of 3 from three-point range and Ray Allen and Shane Battier had two three-pointers each.
Chris Andersen had another productive game off the bench, going 4 of 6 from field for 10 points to go along with five rebounds, two blocks and a steal. The Heat outrebounded the Magic 40-25.
Jones’ third three-pointer of the third quarter gave the Heat a 14-point lead with 7:18 left in the period. A layup by Andersen on an assist from Jones put the Heat ahead 86-66 with little more than a minute left in the third. As a team, the Heat shot 61 percent (11 of 18) from the field in the period.
“J.J. broke it open with some of those threes,” Spoelstra said.
Spoelstra used 12 players and no one played more than 30 minutes. James had 21 points in 29 minutes, going 5 of 11 from the field and 11 of 11 from the free-throw line. He also had seven assists and six rebounds. The Heat was 29 of 32 (90.6 percent) from the foul line overall and won by 28 points despite committing 22 turnovers for 18 points.
Cole drained a three-pointer with 7:09 left in the fourth quarter to give the Heat a 102-76 lead. Miami led 90-71 entering the final period. The Heat has scored at least 100 points in 11 of the team’s first 12 games.
The Heat raced out to a 16-0 lead in the first quarter with Miami making its first six shots and the Magic missing its first seven. But Orlando used a 10-0 run to salvage the quarter. Bosh picked up two fouls, including one offensive foul, during the first three minutes of the game. Bosh bounced back from his poor start and finished with 18 points in less than 24 minutes.