Bench paves way as Heat rip Magic

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Bench paves way as Heat rip Magic

LeBron James warned the Orlando Magic to stop double-teaming him and ignoring James Jones. They didn’t listen.

Jones scored 14 of his 17 points to fuel a third quarter that turned a close game into a blowout, James led Miami with 21 points and the Heat rolled past the Magic, 120-92, on Wednesday night for their fifth straight victory.

Chris Bosh added 18 points for the Heat, who had all five starters sit out the fourth quarter for the second straight night. Dwyane Wade sat out his second straight full game to give his knees more rest.

“My teammates rely on me,” Jones said. “They know what I’m capable of doing.”

So does Orlando.

Jones - who often isn’t even in the Heat rotation - started in Wade’s place and went 4 for 5 from beyond the arc in the third quarter alone, including back-to-back 3s that helped blow the game open.

After connecting to make it 68-57, Jones took a pass from James, watched Orlando guard Jameer Nelson sail past after falling victim to a head fake, then coolly hit another 3 to extend Miami’s lead to 14.

“That’s what happens when you double,” James shouted to any Magic player who might be listening.

The Heat didn’t lose control again. Michael Beasley scored 14 points and Chris Andersen added 10 for the Heat, who opened the game on a 16-0 run, lost the lead briefly in the second quarter, then outscored the Magic 66-43 after halftime.

Arron Afflalo scored 20 of his 30 points in the first half for Orlando, and made 7 of 9 shots from 3-point range. Victor Oladipo scored 20 points, though had eight turnovers, giving him 17 in his past two games.

The teams meet again Saturday in Miami.

“We’ve got to give them credit for hitting shots,” Afflalo said. “At the end of the day, LeBron does command some attention at times. Maybe next game we’ll have a little more individual pride just to see how well we can do defensively.”

Nelson scored 17 for the Magic.

“LeBron came down and imposed his will on the game,” Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said.

The win improved Heat coach Erik Spoelstra’s career record to 269-137, inching him past the legendary Red Auerbach for fifth on the NBA’s all-time winning percentage list for coaches. Spoelstra’s winning percentage is now .663; Auerbach’s was .662.

Only Phil Jackson, Billy Cunningham, Gregg Popovich and K.C. Jones have better percentages.

“We have a lot of professionals in that locker room,” Spoelstra said. “But JJ probably could write the textbook on professionalism, keeping yourself ready, embracing a role and playing that role arguably as well as anybody in this league.”

James reached double figures for the 507th straight game, one shy of matching Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the fifth-longest streak in NBA history.

“I’m gifted,” James said, “and I don’t take it for granted.”

The Heat, who struggled with starts of games at the beginning of the season, came out flying. AP
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