Updated: March 14, 2012, 10:10 AM ET

1. With Dwight, Magic Show They Can Hang

By Michael Wallace
ESPN.com

ORLANDO -- The Miami Heat players and coaches wanted no part of the storyline, that they would be headed to the Amway Center on Tuesday night for perhaps Dwight Howard's final home game amid all the speculation surrounding Thursday's trade deadline.

Now, the Heat might be actually pulling for the Magic to deal Howard not only out of the Southeast Division, but also the Eastern Conference as well. The Magic once again set aside the distractions regarding Howard's future and hung another loss on one of the conference's top teams with a 104-98 victory against the Heat.

The Magic (28-15) have solidified themselves as a legitimate threat to both the East-leading Chicago Bulls and the Heat. Orlando began its current three-game winning streak with a victory in Chicago last week. The Magic also defeated the Indiana Pacers before knocking off the Heat.

At a time when so much focus has been on dismantling the team in order to get assets in return for Howard, Orlando has responded by putting together one of its most solid runs of the season. How lethal were the Magic on Tuesday? They absorbed a 20-0 Heat run midway through the game, and still had enough left down the stretch to pull away.

Howard had 24 points and 25 rebounds, and Orlando also got a statement game from Jameer Nelson, who scored 20 of his team-high 25 points in the second half and overtime.

"We're playing some good basketball right now [and] we just have to keep it up," Howard said of the Magic, who are 2-1 against the Heat and have split two games with the Bulls. "I like the way our team is gelling. We haven't allowed anything to get between us; the locker room is great. When we step on the court, we're together."

But staying together beyond Thursday's 3 p.m. ET trade deadline could be another challenge altogether.

Nelson, who arrived in the first round of the 2004 NBA draft along with Howard, sidestepped the question when asked after Tuesday's game if he believed it was his teammate's final home game in Orlando.

"It just says a lot about his professionalism," Nelson said. "We're professionals. Our job is to go out there and play basketball, and that's why we're all here."

Dimes past: Feb. 28 | 29 | March 1 | 2-3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9-10 | 11 | 12

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