The momentum swinging dunk from Chris Bosh came a little later than expected, but the impact provided was just as significant.
Following a miserable first half that saw the Heat convert just 38 percent of its attempts from the field, Bosh provided some inspiration with a thunderous dunk as the buzzer to end the second quarter sounded.
After a review, the basket was waived off, keeping Miami’s half time deficit at 12 points.
It didn’t take long for Bosh to slam home the ball and make it count in the second half.
The excellent play of Bosh, combined with a solid fourth quarter effort from the rest of the team, sealed a 108-101 victory for Miami over the Magic Saturday night.
Orlando was seemingly on the verge of blowing the game wide open early in the third quarter, as a jumper from Nikola Vucevic put the team up 63-49.
Only the Magic ran out of answers for the star power of the Heat.
The dunk sparked an 11-0 run by the Heat — capped by a layup from Bosh — turning a 14 point deficit into a one possession game midway through the third quarter.
“I didn’t even really think about it, but when I looked up, (I saw) that we were down by five,” Bosh said. “That’s when I think we got a little extra push. I just wanted to provide a little bit of energy for the team, just with effort. I was able to get three layups and that I got me going and the team going.”
Bosh closed the night with 24 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and two steals, but needed the play of its other star to clinch the victory.
Orlando didn’t surrender its advantage until Gerald Green converted a 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter and refused to let the Heat build a comfortable lead.
Point guard Elfrid Payton scored 12 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter, including the final eight of the night for the Magic, but his efforts weren’t enough to overcome the clutch play of Dwyane Wade.
He continually delivered for Miami down the stretch Saturday night.
During the final five minutes of the game, Wade scored half of his 24 points, as he made each of his four attempts from the field, converted all four of his free throws and found Dragic for a critical 3-pointer with just over 90 seconds remaining to put the game out of reach.
“I got my opportunity late. I got some good opportunities and got some shots to fall, finally,” Wade said. “I knew I was going to be aggressive. Obviously, I understand that the ball was going to be in my hand a lot toward the end. Chris did his job, Goran was doing his job and I had to finish and do my job.”
Entering the game, Wade had totaled just 33 points in crunch time during the first 27 games of the season.
Crunch time is defined as any point in the fourth quarter, or overtime, when the game is within five points.
Aside from his final two free throws, which put the game out of reach, Wade scored 10 crunch time points against the Magic.
“Dwyane is our closer. The ball is going to be in his hands and he is going to make big time decisions,” Bosh said. “If we’re in a game where we’re within striking distance, or we have a lead, I think that gets him up even more. He was able to bring us home, that’s why he’s one of the best players in the league.”
Wade upped his shooting percentage up to 50 percent in crunch time on the season after converting all four of his attempts in Orlando.
The game was a rare opportunity for the team to perform in crunch time, as only five times all season has a Heat game been decided by five points or fewer.
The lack of experience in crunch time, along with a new cast of players, has made the fourth quarter interesting for the Heat.
Hassan Whiteside was benched during the entire overtime session for Miami Friday against New Orleans, but played the entire fourth quarter Saturday night. Green added eight of his 17 points in the fourth quarter while Dragic poured in a season-high 22 points on 9-of-16 shooting from the field.
Saturday completed the third back-to-back set of the season for Miami and several players delivered key contributions, especially from their pair of stars.
“I thought C.B. (Bosh) did a great job keeping us afloat,” Wade said. “You have to understand on the road, you are going to get down sometimes. We have the guys on the roster than can win games if we get it close enough. I think that’s what we’ve proved as of late.”