Miami Heat

Another third-quarter swoon cost the Miami Heat against the Orlando Magic on Tuesday

Erik Spoelstra on Heat’s need to improve

Coach Erik Spoelstra speaks about the Heat’s need to improve after falling to the Nets on Tuesday.
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Coach Erik Spoelstra speaks about the Heat’s need to improve after falling to the Nets on Tuesday.

Even when the Miami Heat play well for a quarter or two, the possibility of a meltdown is always lingering. The so-called lulls — typically spanning the length of one quarter — have been the root cause of just about every one of the Heat’s losses this season. For a 12-minute stretch almost every night, Miami’s offense unravels and its defense breaks down.

On Tuesday, it came in the third quarter. The Orlando Magic entered halftime trailing by four and went into the fourth quarter up 14 after outscoring the Heat, 30-12, in the third quarter in Miami. Although the Heat regrouped a bit in the fourth, it couldn’t make up the hole it dug and fell to the Magic, 105-90, at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Miami, which entered Tuesday riding just its third two-game winning streak of the year, finished a crucial four-game homestand at 2-2. The Heat (9-14) now heads on the road for six games against Western Conference teams.

Miami’s offensive issues began with Josh Richardson. The combo guard is the Heat’s leading scorer this season and he missed his first eight shots Tuesday. The 25-year-old finished with just six points on 2-of-14 shooting. No one else stepped up consistently on his off night.

Center Hassan Whiteside carried the offense early, scoring all 12 of his points in the first half. Post player Kelly Olynyk scored 13 points, but didn’t hit a three-pointer until the fourth quarter. Forward Justise Winslow led Miami with 14 points. In the third, the Heat shot just 5 of 22 from the floor.

On the other end of the floor, Aaron Gordon woke up. The Orlando forward scored 16 of his XX points in the third, shooting 6 of 7 and hitting both his three-point attempts. He led all scoreers, and the Magic (12-12) got additional help with 19 points each from post player Nikola Vucevic and swingman Terrence Ross.

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