MIAMI – The Orlando Magic beat the Miami Heat for eighth place in the Eastern Conference qualifiers on Tuesday night with a 104-99 win in a playoff game.
Brooklyn nets, Detroit Pistons, Heat, Magic and Charlotte Hornets are currently separated by only 2.5 games and only two games in the losing round.
The Magic (37-38) have a half-lead over the Heat (36-38) and Orlando holds the tiebreak if both teams end up with the same record. Yet, Magic coach Steve Clifford was not ready to celebrate after Tuesday's win. Eight days from the end, he told his players they had to finish.
Chris Bosh joined Alonzo Mourning, Tim Hardaway and Shaquille O 'Neal as the fourth player to suspend his jersey in the American Airlines Arena's Miami Heat beams Tuesday night.
"There is [five] teams for three places, "said Clifford. As I said a couple [of] A few weeks ago, the Heat would be the team to compete for these three places because of the way they play.
"We have to win on the road, every game will be difficult, it was a good start to the trip."
Nikola Vucevic made the difference for the Magic Tuesday night, as the tall man shot the ball well and played with great confidence on his way to a 24-point high.
"This time of year is the most important," Vucevic said. "We're fighting for a playoff spot, and winning six is really huge and it gives us a big advantage right now, so we have to keep going."
The Dion Waiters scored a 26-point high for the Heat and Dwyane Wade added 22 points. But Miami was relegated to the score 55-39.
"I think we all know it's going to come to an end," said Wade. "That's not what I wanted, I would like the last game not to be like that so I can shoot all my shots, but we'll have to play a good basketball game." It's been the team over the last two years, we've been to the end a few times, we're in the fight, we have a chance. "
The Heat led 51-42 at halftime before Magic took the lead in the third quarter. Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said he had nothing to do with a long half due to Chris Bosh's withdrawal.
"I told the guys in the locker room to get used to that," Spoelstra said. "If you want to make the playoffs, it's going to be uncomfortable – it's what you really feel – there's a big misconception and a big lie about the playoffs: Everybody thinks that it's so much fun, so it's a great blessing to be in a situation during the season when you feel this.You'll feel a great joy of winning and a great suffering to lose.C & # 39; Is what you want to feel. "
The Heat welcomes the already eliminated Dallas Mavericks Thursday, but five of Miami's last eight games are opposed to teams currently qualifying for the playoffs.
The Magic will then play in Detroit, with five of their seven games against qualifiers for the playoffs.