Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series starts 10/29

Game 1: Friday, October 29th
Game 2: Wednesday, November 24th
Game 3: Thursday, February 3rd
Game 4: Thursday, March 3rd

Heat 104

(35-14, 17-9 away)

Magic 100

(31-19, 18-7 home)

    Coverage: TNT

    8:00 PM ET, February 3, 2011

    Amway Center, Orlando, FL

    1 2 3 4 T
    MIA 30 25 24 25104
    ORL 26 19 18 37100

    Top Performers

    Mia: L. James 51 Pts, 11 Reb, 8 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

    Orl: J. Nelson 22 Pts, 6 Reb, 6 Ast

    LeBron James scores 23 of his 51 points in first quarter to lead Heat

    Associated Press

    ORLANDO, Fla. -- In the days leading up to Miami's third matchup of the season with Southeast Division-rival Orlando, LeBron James stressed that even at barely the midpoint of the season there was high importance for Thursday night's game.

    And James played like it, pouring in 51 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists -- including a 23-point first quarter -- to lead Miami to a 104-100 victory.

    It was a season high for James, whose scoring effort tied for the fifth most points of his career. Dwyane Wade added 15 points and Chris Bosh 13. The victory was the Heat's fourth straight. The Magic lost for the fourth time in their last six and fell behind 2-1 in the season series with Miami.

    "Just playing this team got me going," said James, who hit his first 11 shots of the night. "We understand that it wasn't just any regular-season game. There were a lot of things said about us in the offseason that came from this organization. So we just wanted to come in here and play to our abilities and make a statement."

    Jameer Nelson led Orlando with 22 points. Dwight Howard had 17 points and 16 rebounds, but only one point after halftime and was just 3 for 13 at the free throw line. Jason Richardson chipped in 16.

    The Heat were expected to exploit a thin Magic front line that was missing injured starting forward Brandon Bass. Instead, led by James, the Heat did their damage from the outside. They led by as many as 23 points before a frantic rally by the Magic in the final six minutes almost washed it away.

    Miami took a 16-point advantage into the final period and led 90-69 before the Magic went on a 19-4 run, capped by Gilbert Arenas' 3-pointer to cut the lead to 94-88 with 1:51 remaining in the game.

    But James responded with his own 3-pointer with the shot clock winding down to give Miami a 97-88 cushion.

    A missed 3-pointer by Richardson on the other end was rebounded by James, who was fouled and hit 1 of 2 free throws. Another 3 by Richardson cut the lead to 98-91 with 51.1 seconds left.

    Nelson hit a layup to trim it to 98-93 and then 99-95 with a pair of free throws with 22.5 to play.

    Following a pair of free throws by James to make it 103-97, Nelson hit a 3-pointer with 9.4 seconds left. The Heat lost the ball on the ensuing inbounds play, but the Magic were unable to tie it on their next possession. Wade hit a free throw to provide the final margin.

    "We just let our guard down," James said. "We can't do that as a veteran ball club. You can say that about a young team. We came in [the locker room] and you could tell by the look on the guys' faces that we weren't satisfied with the way we finished the game out. That's always a good sign. It wasn't just 'Let's celebrate.' "

    Aside from the late flurry by Orlando, there was another scary moment for the Heat in the third quarter.

    Wade was driving to the basket with 9:43 left in the period when he went up for a dunk and was fouled hard by Howard, who was attempting to block. Wade slammed to the floor and remained down for about a minute.

    After a timeout, the Heat players -- even those who were on the bench -- went out to check on Wade, who was face-down on the court. He eventually walked gingerly to the bench and remained in the game to shoot two free throws. He went to the locker room and returned with a heat pack on his back. He returned to start the fourth quarter.

    He had ice on his back afterward, but said he will travel with the team to Charlotte and plans to play Friday. He said he didn't think the play by Howard was dirty.

    Nelson said he was pleased with his team's comeback effort, but not with another slow start by the Magic, who he said succeeded for the most part Thursday in forcing the Heat to shoot jumpers.

    "We need to do the things we need to do to get ourselves ready, individually and collectively," he said. "We shouldn't have to come out and talk about energy or intensity every night. That should be a given of something that should be there every night."

    Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said their early offensive woes were too much to overcome. For the night, Orlando shot just 42 percent.

    "Everybody struggled on the offensive floor," Van Gundy said. "I was quote honestly pretty happy with the shots that we got. Some nights I'm not, but I thought we got good shots. I thought we had trouble putting the ball in the basket."

    Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said that though he was pleased with the win, the final six minutes is what he will be watching for their final meeting on March 3.

    "They've very competitive. You've got to be on top of you game and for 42 minutes we played as well and as efficient as we can on both ends of the court. We had an unfortunate six-minute lapse, but I'm not going to let that take away from the win," he said. "It was a good win. Our guys were very motivated in this game to beat a division rival, but hopefully we've learned our lesson."

    Game notes

    According to STATS LLC, in the last 25 years the only player with at least 50 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists in game was Michael Jordan against Phoenix on Jan. 21, 1989. ... The Magic were outrebounded 35-27. ... Making his fifth start of the season, Anderson scored in double figures for 19th time in the last 22 games.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 104 100
    FGM-FGA 36-72 (.500) 36-85 (.424)
    3PM-3PA 7-16 (.438) 12-33 (.364)
    FTM-FTA 25-36 (.694) 16-31 (.516)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 9-44 17-44
    Assists 19 20
    Turnovers 11 10
    Steals 6 4
    Blocks 6 0
    Fast Break Points 12 21
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 27 (0/0) 26 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 23 0

    Top Performers

    LeBron James James
    Points: 51
    Reb: 11
    Ast: 8
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 1
    Jameer Nelson Nelson
    Points: 22
    Reb: 6
    Ast: 6
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 0

    Research Notes

    Are 50-point games becoming less frequent? LeBron's 51-point effort was the first 50-point game of the season. 50-pt games have been in decline each of the last three seasons. There were just three such games all of last season (Andre Miller, Carmelo Anthony, Brandon Jennings) after 11 in 2008-09.
    This is the 9th 50-point game for LeBron James on the ROAD. He ties Kobe Bryant for the 2nd-most road 50-point games in the last 25 seasons.
    LeBron James recorded the 6th 50-pt game in Heat history, with 3 of them coming against the Magic. His 51 is 3rd most in franchise history, behind Glen Rice's 56 and teammate Dwyane Wade's 55.
    LeBron James is only the 2nd player in Heat history to reach 45+ points, 10+ rebounds and 8+ assists. Dwyane Wade went for 50 pts, 10 rebounds and 9 assists on march 14, 2009 vs Utah. No Heat player has ever had a triple-double with 40 or more points
    LeBron James had 29 points in the first half. That is tied with Wesley Matthews for the 2nd-most points scored in the first half this season. Kevin Martin had 32 in the first half on December 11 against the Cavaliers.

    ESPN Stats & Information