Johnson, Dragic spark Heat to comeback win vs. Magic
ORLANDO, Fla. -- It was like Miami Heat guard Tyler Johnson just flipped a switch Saturday night.
After struggling for six consecutive quarters, Johnson did a dramatic turnaround in the second half, leading the Heat through a 117-111 comeback victory over the Orlando Magic.
Johnson scored a season-high 31 points, including 22 in the third quarter when he made 10 consecutive shots, that erased an 18-point deficit and brought his team back to life.
“Player of the game for us. Really inspiring,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He was tremendous. Just a tremendous effort on his part.”
The Heat (19-17) were coming off an embarrassing 24-point loss at home on Friday when Johnson made only 4 of 15 shots. He made only 1 of 4 in the first half Saturday when the Heat trailed by 16.
That’s when everything changed.
“I thought we were going to get blown out of the game in the first half,” Johnson said. “For six quarters, we just got away from the way we’re supposed to play. In the second half, I just wanted to be more aggressive.”
Goran Dragic scored 25 points, including nine in the closing 3:30 to put the finishing touch on the Miami comeback.
Kelly Olynyk had 17 points and six rebounds. Hassan Whiteside had nine points and a game-high 13 rebounds. Wayne Ellington had 12 points for the Heat.
“I wouldn’t say it was epic, but our guys showed a lot of character tonight,” Spoelstra said. “It was as ugly as it can get in the first half. It started to look like it was going the same direction as (Friday) night. It would have been easy to cave.”
The Magic (12-25) were led by Aaron Gordon, who scored 39 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Evan Fournier scored 23 points. Jonathon Simmons had 12 points, six rebounds and six assists. Bismack Biyombo had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
“Yeah, it hurts,” Magic coach Frank Vogel said. “But credit Miami’s defense and the way they elevated their game. Our guys played their hearts out, but you’ve got to get stops down the stretch, and we didn’t do that.”
Miami grabbed its first lead since early in the first quarter when Dragic hit a floater with 1:52 remaining. He hit a second basket for the 109-105 lead 17 seconds later after a backcourt violation by Payton.
The Magic closed to within one but never regained the lead.
“Very disappointing,” Payton said. “Another game we played well in, but we just didn’t play a complete game. Credit Miami, they found a way to get stops. I can’t turn the ball over down the stretch like that.”
The Magic shot 54.3 percent (44 of 81) from the field and 44.4 percent (12 of 27) from 3-point range. The Heat shot 51 percent (45 of 88) from the field and 50 percent (12 of 24) from 3-point range.
Johnson hit 10 of 11 shots in the third quarter when he cut Orlando’s lead from 18 to four. The Magic still led 92-86 going into the fourth.
The Magic led 66-50 at intermission by shooting a season-best 67.5 percent (26 of 38) from the field. They also made seven of 12 from 3-point range in the first half.
NOTES: Heat F Kelly Olynyk made his first nine free throws before missing his 10th late in the third quarter. ... The Magic placed rookie F Jonathan Isaac -- the sixth pick of the 2017 NBA Draft -- on an injury rehabilitation and conditioning program, in hopes of getting him back in the lineup. He sprained his ankle early in November and missed his 22nd game Saturday. ... Magic F Jonathon Simmons played Saturday despite missing the morning workout with an undisclosed illness. ... The Heat trounced the Magic in Miami earlier this week by 18 points. ... Heat rookie G Matt Williams, Jr. played his high school and college basketball in Orlando, growing up less than a mile from the Amway Center. ... The Heat don’t return to action until Jan. 3 at home against Detroit. ... The Heat have trailed by 30 points or more in five games this season, the latest coming in Friday night’s home loss to the Brooklyn Nets.