One thing the Heat had been able to do through peaks and valleys this season was stop the bleeding during the lowest of lows.
It couldn’t on Monday night in what could end up being a costly 111-109 defeat to the lowly Orlando Magic at AmericanAirlines Arena.
The Heat (29-25) trailed by 14 points with 8:17 left, but came storming back with a 16-2 surge to even things up with 2:53 left.
Orlando’s go-ahead bucket came with 1:31 left when Jonathon Simmons hit a 16-foot jumper.
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And yet the Heat couldn’t answer late as it missed its final five shots and turned the ball over twice in the closing seconds as it suffered its season-worst fourth consecutive loss.
The Magic (16-36), which owned the worst record in the NBA coming into the game, shot 13 of 30 from three-point range and beat the Heat even without top scorer Aaron Gordon, who was out with a hip flexor injury.
Josh Richardson, who led the Heat’s late push and finished with a team-high 20 points on 8 of 13 shots, missed a game-tying attempt with 6.2 seconds left. Tyler Johnson picked up a loose ball, but had his put back blocked with 1.8 seconds left by Bismack Biyombo.
The referees initially ruled goal-tending, but the play was reviewed and overturned.
On the ensuing play, the Heat’s inbounds pass by Justise Winslow was deflected by Biyombo and stolen by Evan Fournier as time expired.
The loss dropped the Heat (29-25) to seventh in the East half a game back of the Pacers, a full game (two back in loss column) behind the Bucks, which the Heat plays Friday, and 2 1/2 games behind both the Wizards and Cavaliers.
The Heat is two games ahead of the eighth-seeded Pistons, but only one up in the loss column.
Hassan Whiteside returned after missing the Heat’s previous game with a stomach illness and finished with 19 points and 14 rebounds.
But the Heat missed its first 12 attempts from three-point range and finished 3 of 23 – its third worst three-point shooting performance of the season.
▪ Kelly Olynyk left the game with 5:19 left in the first quarter with a left shoulder strain and did not return. Olnyk said after the game that he hasn’t had an X-ray or MRI but that the shoulder was in serious pain.