When Dwyane Wade checked in at the scorer’s table with 6:18 to go, Chris Bosh and Goran Dragic had already rallied the Heat from 15 points down in the second half to take the lead.
“I knew Chris did his job and Goran was doing his job, and I had to finish and do my job,” Wade said.
Miami’s closer went to work. With a surgical touch, Wade hit a turnaround bank shot from 12 feet, another from 15, a 17-footer and then found Dragic on the other side of the court for a wide-open three that he buried.
And just like that, the Heat pulled away behind the future Hall of Famer, beating the Magic 108-101 on Saturday night at the Amway Center. Wade scored 12 of Miami’s final 19 points in a season-high, 39-point fourth quarter, and Miami (18-11) beat Orlando (17-13) for the 12th time in the past 13 meetings.
“Dwyane’s our closer,” said Bosh, who scored nine points to start the fourth quarter and, like Wade, finished with a team-high 24 points. “The ball is going to be in his hands, and he’s going to make big-time decisions. He’s just one of those guys that can make everybody better and makes the right decision every time. That gets him going.
“Our belief in him to really close it out for us, that really kind of motivates him. If we’re in a game when we’re in striking distance or have the lead, I think that gets him up even more. We did our jobs and kept the team afloat. He was able to bring us home. That’s why he’s one of the best players in the league.”
For three quarters the Magic played like an angry little brother tired of getting beat up and picked on.
The Heat, though, wasn’t ready to let its in-state rivals get the better of it just yet. After shooting 42.4 percent through the first three quarters, Miami made 13 of its final 18 shots (72.2 percent) in the fourth quarter.
Orlando led until Gerald Green swished a three-pointer in transition to make it 82-81 with 8:32 remaining. Miami was 5 of 13 from three-point range through the first three quarters, but started the fourth 4 of 5 from long distance.
The Magic came in as one of the most improved defensive teams in the league under first-year coach Scott Skiles. Orlando had the third-worst field-goal-percentage defense in the league last season but came into Saturday’s game tied with the Clippers for 10th-best. Last year, Orlando didn’t win its 18th game until Feb. 20.
After turning the ball over 17 times in Friday’s overtime win over the Pelicans, the Heat turned it over only four times in the first half Saturday. But two of them came with under a minute left in the half and Orlando closed the quarter on a 7-0 run, turning a five-point lead into a sizable 56-44 advantage at the break.
Miami got next-to-nothing from Hassan Whiteside in the first half. He drew two early fouls and played only 13 minutes, missed his only shot attempt, grabbed one rebound and blocked two shots. Magic center Nikola Vucevic, meanwhile, was plus-11 on the court with 10 points, eight rebounds and three assists as Orlando made 6 of its 12 three-point attempts and collected assists on 18 of its 23 field goals.
But Whiteside turned things around in the second half and played every second of the fourth quarter, finishing with seven points, six rebounds, three blocks and a team-best, plus-15 rating in the game.
▪ Amar’e Stoudemire played in his first game since Dec. 11 at Indiana and only his fourth game of the season when he replaced Whiteside after he drew his second foul with 6:55 left in the opening quarter. Stoudemire played nine scoreless minutes, missed two shots, grabbed two rebounds and assisted Wade on a layup.
JOHNSON EYEING RETURN MONDAY
The last time Tyler Johnson tried to come back he played all of five minutes in the first half at Brooklyn on Dec. 16 before being shut down again. He’s hoping for better results the second time around.
The Heat’s 23-year-old backup point guard was inactive Saturday for the fifth consecutive game with a left shoulder impingement. But now that he has gone through a full practice (Thursday) without discomfort in the shoulder and has spent the past few days continuing to strengthen it, he and the Heat are targeting Monday night’s game against the Nets as comeback attempt number two.
“We’re just trying to make sure it’s strong again or back to where it was before,” Johnson said. “We feel we’re headed in that direction. So Monday is probably the best bet.”
Counting Saturday's game, Johnson has missed eight of the Heat's last nine games. The shoulder pain is something he's dealt with since he was back in college. But he hasn't had surgery to correct it and is trying to avoid it.
Johnson said when he returns the plan isn't to incorporate rest days. So, if the Heat have a set of back-to-back games, he plans on being out there for both. Johnson said he just needs to continue to strengthen the shoulder as the year goes on.
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