The Magic knew they would need a tall effort to bounce back from a 35-point effort. The frustration was palpable in the locker room over the defensive breakdowns and the deficit the final score ended up being. You could even perhaps see it in the way the players were pressing to get those points back.
The focus in practice, knowing the Heat were coming into town, was on the Magic, Jacque Vaughn said. The team needed to get back to basic. That is what Orlando would have to lean on against the defending champions and without five keey players -- Jameer Nelson missed his second straight game and Gustavo Ayon was a late scratch.
Did I mention the Magic were playing the Heat?
It seems the message was received and the focus was returned. For the most part. This was still the Heat, and the margin for error for the defending champs was much bigger than the margin for error for the Magic.
Orlando committed three turnovers on the final three possessions including Dwyane Wade stealing a J.J. Redick passed when he left Arron Afflalo and shot in front of Hedo Turkoglu for a breakaway steal and jam. That sealed a 112-110 overtime victory for Miami.
It erased an incredible effort from the Magic, perhaps their best offensive effort of the season.
Nikola Vucevic scored 20 points and grabbed a franchise best 29 rebounds, including 27 in regulation. Arron Afflalo scored 28 points and J.J. Redick had 23 points. The Magic got great offensive performances from three guys that needed to have great offensive games.
The Magic won the battle on the glass, outmuscling the Heat 50-33 on the glass and grabbing 18 offensive rebounds. Orlando, already shooting 47.7 percent from the floor, got numerous second chance opportunities and took advantage of Miami's few mistakes in scoring 15 points off the team's seven turnovers.
The Magic attacked the paint for 50 points in the paint and got to the line for 22 attempts. Afflalo had his isolation game working as he scored on 9 for 19 field goals and got to the line for nine free throws. The Magic were attacking the paint and doing the things the team needed to win.
Except the Heat have LeBron James.
James had 36 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds and dominated the fourth quarter and overtime. He scored 10 points in the overtime period alone. That is what James does. And the Magic did not have an answer.
So even with a strong offensive effort, it was not enough. James does that and he was simply unsoppable when he took over.
It did not help that Orlando committed 17 turnovers for 27 Miami points. The Heat took advantage of the Magic's mistakes and the Magic could not execute and hold on to a lead entering the fourth quarter.
Still, it was one of Orlando's best offensive performances and the team stayed with the game plan and had a chance to win it at the end. The Magic could hang their hat on that. But even with the better effort against the better team, it was still a loss. And so even with some warm feelings, the frustration remains.