The Orlando Magic’s problem in their 110-105 road loss to the Miami Heat was one that hasn’t been an issue in a while.
At the least, it didn’t hurt them in a while like it did Friday at Miami-Dade Arena.
The Magic’s 20 turnovers were not only their most since their Nov. 14 loss to the Charlotte Hornets, but they also led to 32 Heat points.
“When it comes down to it, you’ve gotta take care of the basketball,” coach Jamahl Mosley said. “I love our fight and I love the fact we were in it. A great environment on the road against a tough team, but you’ve gotta take care of the basketball. We didn’t do that.”
Orlando’s giveaways not only gave Miami easier scoring opportunities, but they also sapped the Magic of any offensive rhythm Orlando had late.
The Magic shot better from the field (47.8% compared to 45.9%) and beyond the arc (35.3% to 30.3%) but finished with 16 fewer field goal attempts.
Some of this was because the Magic got to the free throw line more than the Heat, shooting 27-of-32 compared to Miami’s 22-of-26, but the Heat took better care of the ball (11 turnovers), giving them more chances to overcome their early shooting struggles.
“You don’t give yourself a chance in those possessions,” Mosley said. “This is something we’ve got to learn from. We have to take care of the basketball and give ourselves a chance on that end of the floor.”
The Magic stayed in the game despite the Heat winning the possession battle. They trailed just 104-101 after Gary Harris (8 points, 2 rebounds) hit a 3 with 53.8 seconds remaining.
But Jimmy Butler (29 points, 6 assists and 6 rebounds) hit a floater over Wendell Carter Jr. (16 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists but fouled out with 24 seconds remaining) to help close out the game.
Butler made 1 of 2 free throws with 24 seconds left to help seal the win for the Heat (28-22).
Cole Anthony, Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner all scored team-highs of 19 points for the Magic (19-30).
The Magic’s turnover issues started early, with Orlando having 5 giveaways midway through the first, allowing the Heat to take a 17-9 lead.
They took better care of the ball to close out the first half (8 total first-half giveaways), taking a 59-50 lead heading into the third after Anthony scored 17 points in the opening two quarters.
The Magic’s ball retention only got worse from there.
They had 5 turnovers in the third leading to 9 Heat points, allowing Miami to cut the lead to 79-73 heading into the fourth.
The Magic had 7 giveaways in the fourth quarter, leading to 12 Heat points, including a turnover on their final inbounds play to seal the loss.
“It was all self-inflicted wounds,” said Anthony in regard to the Heat having the league’s second-best takeaway rate. “I don’t think they were doing anything too spectacular to do that. They’re a good defensive team, but it was just careless on our part.”
Jonathan Isaac wasn’t available against the Heat because of left knee injury management, with Friday’s game being the first night of a back-to-back.
The Magic play the Chicago Bulls at Amway Center on Saturday.
“This decision we’ve talked about — how his body responds to things, and obviously not playing on back-to-backs,” Mosley said. “He’ll sit tonight and will most likely will be ready to go tomorrow.”
Isaac played his first NBA game in over 2½ years in Monday’s win over the Boston Celtics, recording 10 points (4-for-7 shooting, 2 of 3 on 3-pointers), 3 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 assist in 10 minutes.
He had 5 points (2-for-4 shooting, 1 of 2 on 3s), 2 assists and 2 steals in 8 minutes in Wednesday’s win over the Indiana Pacers.
Not being available for both games of a back-to-back set is standard for players returning from lengthy injury absences.
On Friday, the Magic officially assigned third-year guard R.J. Hampton and rookie forward Caleb Houstan to the organization’s G League affiliate, the Lakeland Magic..
Lakeland plays back-to-back home games against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants Friday and Saturday.
This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Khobi Price at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @khobi_price.
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