Things weren’t going so well for the Miami Heat after 24 minutes in Orlando on Saturday.
Miami was struggling on both ends of the floor, a carryover from the puzzling 24-point home loss the previous night to Brooklyn, and trailed by 16 points while allowing the Magic to shoot 67.5 percent.
When they entered the locker room, coach Erik Spoelstra stepped back and “let them talk and figure it out.”
The recurring theme was effort, something Heat players questioned after the Nets game, too.
“It was clear the effort was not where it needed to be,” tri-captain Udonis Haslem said. “We talked about getting back in transition for this game. In the first half they had 24 points in transition, that’s not Miami Heat basketball. That’s completely opposite of what we talked about what our recipe for winning was. We just wanted to first and foremost correct that.
“Coach can draw up whatever he wants. He can pull out the clipboard, he can show us film. That just comes down to effort and communication.”
The game was too easy for the Magic, which has the second worst record in the Eastern Conference. Orlando had those 24 fast break points – it averages 11.6 per game – to go along with 36 points in the paint – it averages 45.2 per game.
And the Magic made 7-of-12 threes.
“We were talking how they were running us out of the gym,” Tyler Johnson said. “We couldn’t seem to stop anything they were doing in transition. It was hard to get an offensive rhythm because we were using all our energy trying to run back on defense. So we just started communicating a little better, getting our matchups and it went from there.”
And the beneficiary was Johnson, who scored 22 of his team-high 31 points in the third quarter when the Heat outscored the Magic, 26-36, to cut the deficit to six. Miami continued the assault and had a greater advantage in the fourth quarter (31-19) for a 117-111 victory.
And as far as the Heat showing more effort: The Magic has just two fast break points, 14 points in the paint and shot 41.5 percent in the second half.
Tri-captain Goran Dragic was asked how important that halftime awakening was.
“Really important,” he said. “We knew what we were doing wrong in the first half. Especially our transition defense was really poor and everybody knew that. They (were) going to let us back in as long as we take control on defense and try to play in the half court with them and that’s what we did in the second half and you can see the result.”