Mateo’s Hoop Diary: The Heat crushed the Magic

The visiting Magic got shut down, and vintage Jimmy Butler returned.

Early, the Heat’s defense swarmed the Magic in man coverage and the 2-3 zone, contesting on time and forcing the guests to seven of 20 baskets in the first quarter. Markelle Fultz and Paolo Banchero were the only mystical ones causing problems- the former splashed a corner triple and two transition layups; the latter dunked on the break and pivoted past Terry Rozier in the post for a two-handed jam.

On offense, the Heat were bothered by the Magic’s backline and committed five turnovers. But Caleb Martin hit a pair of jumpers, Bam Adebayo dunked twice, and Tyler Herro got inside the lane for two layups. Jimmy Butler recovered three boards and supplied three dimes- finding shooters in the open and half court plus passing to a cutting Jaime Jaquez Jr. for a baseline score.

The rest of the crew logged three of nine attempts, but the Heat led 26-19.

In the second quarter, the advantage bulged to 20 points through seven minutes as the Heatles registered nine of 13 baskets. Then, the group took its foot off the gas, allowing Wendell Carter Jr. and Banchero to shatter the zone with mid-range jumpers. On top of that, Banchero slammed a putback in between three defenders, Jalen Suggs buried a right corner triple and Jonathan Isaac added a tray.

Following the hot start to the second frame, the Heat made 33% of its tries. To boot, Adebayo got flagged for his third penalty with 97 seconds left in the period. After he sat, the Heat scored one point to close, and the backline was attacked twice as Fultz overpowered Rozier in the post for a bucket and Banchero got to the line, making both freebies.

At halftime, the Heat were up on the glass by three and on the scoreboard 56-19, permitting the Magic 55.6% of attempts to fall in the second after only 35% in the first. Additionally, the hosts had 30 paint points, 16 on the break, four via second chances and nine off turnovers. The scoring leader for the club was Rozier, with 11 points and four dimes.

The Magic tallied 24 in the box, eight in the open court, four from extra tries and 10 off turnovers. Banchero was its main option, producing 14 points on 55.6% shooting.

Next, the Heat dispensed 40 points in the third quarter, marking the seventh occasion of the season the club has notched at least as many for a sequence. Adebayo was in charge, logging a putback and four more close-range baskets. Martin made a top-of-the-key long-two-pointer, dunked on the break and shook Moritz Wagner on the baseline for a reverse layup. And the rest of the crew racked up half of its shots and six of eight free throws.

Defensively, the Heat lost track of Carter, allowing a pair of triples and two dunks. Banchero was another issue -hitting a pull-up triple on the break, spinning past Rozier for a jumper in the paint and returning to the line, contributing four freebies.

Despite weak inside and long-range protection in the third, the Heat started the fourth quarter ahead 96-75. The dull security continued for nearly five minutes as the Magic filed five consecutive baskets to cut the lead to 10 points.

Then Butler erupted, scoring three straight times. He canned a step-back corner triple, dropped another banger in transition, and drove into M. Wagner for a layup, catapulting the Heat back up by 18 points.

The team recorded its last six of nine baskets to end the game. Additionally, it allowed the Magic just 39.1% of its tries in the fourth quarter.

The Heat won 121-95 and collected four more rebounds than the Magic. It had 58 paint points, 27 on the break, 10 via second chances and 19 off turnovers. Butler was the high Heatle with 23 points on six of nine looks, plus eight rebounds and eight assists. Rozier was next on the scoring ledger with 18 points, and he had seven dimes and six boards.

The Magic had 44 interior points, 18 on the break, 11 from extra tries and 12 after turnovers. Banchero had 23 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.

At the postgame presser, coach Erik Spoelstra said, “That’s four games in a row now where we look a lot more consistently closer to our identity defensively.”

In the locker room, Butler was asked about his hot 3-point shooting and his goal of making half of his trays this season. He said, “I think everyone wants me to shoot more of them, honestly. I’m not going for that, though. I’m still going to run in there and hit people.”

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