MIAMI — The Heat have had plenty of bad losses this season — the Kings, Hawks and Nets come to mind.
But Monday’s 111-109 loss to the Magic at AmericanAirlines Arena is up there. Orlando (16-36) entered with the league’s worst record and 4-21 over its past 25 games.
The Heat (29-25) have now dropped a season-high four straight, with a Wednesday home game against the potent Rockets up next and Thursday’s trade deadline looming. Miami has lost six games against the four worst teams in the Eastern Conference.
“We can’t come in and try to change everything,” Heat wing Josh Richardson said. “Just because we lost four in a row, we can’t come in like we’re going to change our whole offense or be too drastic. We just got to approach it like every other day and come in ready to work and fix what we’re doing wrong.”
Miami trailed by as much as 14 points in the fourth quarter, but rallied with a 16-2 run to tie the game at 109 with 2:53 to play. The Heat didn’t score again, though, and missed their final five shots, as the Magic made the game-winning basket on a Jonathon Simmons dunk with 1:31 to play.
“I think we got good looks at it,” Richardson said of the Heat’s final possessions that came up empty. “I don’t think we were forced into any bad situations really on offense that we had to take a bad one. I think we were getting our looks, it just wasn’t falling tonight.”
Mario Hezonja led Orlando with a team-high 20 points on 7-of-14 shooting. The Magic made 48.8 percent of their shots.
The Heat shot 43 percent from the field, and made just 3-of-23 3-pointers. Richardson scored a team-high 20 points for the Heat.
Center/forward Kelly Olynyk exited the game in the first quarter with a strained left shoulder and never returned. He will be re-evaluated Tuesday.
“They are telling me not to move it too much, to let it calm down first and kind of keep the pain,” Olynyk said. “It’s pretty painful. We’ll see what happens.”
Here are our five takeaways …
Can’t stop the Magic’s offense: Orlando doesn’t have the best offense in the NBA. In fact, the Magic entered ranked 21st out of 30 teams in offensive rating. But Orlando couldn’t be stopped Monday. The Magic scored 111 points, 67 of those in the second and third quarters, on 48.8 percent shooting from the field and 13-of-30 shooting from 3-point range. It’s just a continuation of some recent defensive slippage for the Heat. Miami has allowed an average of 108.3 points on 50.2 percent shooting over the past three games.
“The defense just dropped off considerably, the level of urgency and the level of detail and enthusiasm to defend just dropped off,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “You saw it big time to start the game, big time. And then in the fourth quarter, obviously guys were flying around, but, you have to play a full 48 minutes and four quarters, obviously, and we paid the price for that.”
Live by the three, die by the three: The Heat take a lot of 3-pointers. Some nights, that’s good. On Monday, it was bad. Miami, which entered with the seventh-most threes attempted in the league this season, shot 3-of-23 from 3-point range. The Heat were outscored 39-9 from beyond the arc. Miami is 1-8 this season when it finishes with seven or fewer made 3-pointers.
Whiteside watches fourth quarter from bench … again: It looked like Hassan Whiteside was on his way to a dominant performance in his return from a stomach illness that forced him to miss Saturday’s loss to the Pistons. Whiteside scored the Heat’s first nine points, and recorded 15 points and 11 rebounds in the first half. But he finished with 19 points and 14 rebounds in 23 minutes, as he spent the final 16:06 of the game on the bench. Whiteside did not play in the fourth quarter. Instead, rookie Bam Adebayo was on the court all but 13 seconds of the fourth. Adebayo finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
“I can always play that many minutes,” Whiteside said when asked if he could have played more than 30 minutes in his first game back from the illness. “But coach went with the team that he wanted to get the win with and it’s coach’s decision. I can’t do nothing about that.”
Another new Heat starting lineup: Miami used its 17th different different starting lineup of the season Monday. This time Spoelstra went with Goran Dragic, Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow, Kelly Olynyk and Hassan Whiteside as the starting five. The group had played just three minutes together this season entering the game. The lineup didn’t get much playing time together Monday either, but it was still productive. The five-man combination outscored the Magic 20-10 over the first 6:19 of the game before Olynyk exited the contest in the first quarter with a strained left shoulder. He never returned.
A look at the standings: After dropping from fourth to seventh place in the Eastern Conference over the past week, the Heat continue to move in the wrong direction in the standings. Even after Monday’s loss, Miami remains at No. 7 in the East. But the Heat are now one-half game behind the No. 6 Indiana Pacers, one game behind the No. 5 Milwaukee Bucks and 2.5 games behind the No. 4 Washington Wizards and No. 3 Cleveland Cavaliers. Miami is two games ahead of the No. 8 Philadelphia 76ers.