Heat top Magic in home regular-season finale, 118-96
MIAMI (AP) The home finale was an easy win for the Miami Heat.
Their playoff seed now hinges on what happens on the road.
Luol Deng scored 20 points, Hassan Whiteside added 18 points and 15 rebounds in his first start since Jan. 20, and the Heat beat the Orlando Magic 118-96 on Sunday night.
Goran Dragic scored 19 points for the Heat, and Dwyane Wade had 17 on 7-of-9 shooting in 24 minutes. The Heat can secure home-court advantage in the first round by winning their final two games, at Detroit and Boston.
''We're going to go, we're going to play two games, we'll go out there and compete and whatever happens after that happens,'' Wade said. ''If we start at home it's going to be great for this team. If we don't, it's going to be a great challenge. But either way we're going to be preparing for the playoffs.''
Gerald Green added 15 points for Miami, which outscored Orlando 60-38 in the paint. Whiteside was told a couple hours before game time that he was back in the starting lineup, and coach Erik Spoelstra said the time was right.
''I'm still going to come out here and play the same,'' said Whiteside, who flourished coming off the bench.
Evan Fournier scored 21 for the Magic, with Nik Vucevic adding 19 points and Mario Hezonja finishing with 10. The Magic lost three of four meetings with the Heat this season.
''We were off from the beginning of the game on the defensive end of the floor,'' Magic coach Scott Skiles said. ''We weren't sharp at all, really in any aspect but we were still hanging in the game.''
Miami finished the regular season 28-13 at home, 10-1 in its last 11 and on a six-game winning streak. And the race for No. 3 through No. 6 in the East remains unsettled, with tons of shuffling potential.
Atlanta (48-32) currently holds the No. 3 spot, followed by No. 4 Boston (47-33), No. 5 Miami (47-33) and No. 6 Charlotte (46-34). Atlanta hosts Cleveland on Monday and visits Washington on Wednesday. Boston plays host to the teams on its heels, Charlotte on Monday and Miami on Wednesday. Miami also goes to Detroit on Tuesday, and the Hornets finish at home against Orlando on Wednesday.
Miami led 56-49 at the half and put this one away with a 13-3 run to close the third, sparked by six consecutive points by Whiteside.
''He responded in the right way,'' Spoelstra said. ''Now the challenge will be do it again.''
Magic: Aaron Gordon and Victor Oladipo were not with the team in Miami, staying back in Orlando to deal with concussions. Their status for Orlando's final two games of the season is unclear. ... The Magic allowed Miami to shoot 75 percent in the first quarter, matching Orlando's worst field-goal percentage allowed in any quarter this season. Cleveland also shot 75 percent (12 for 16) in the second quarter on March 18.
Heat: Wade has scored at least 10 points in his last 40 games against the Magic. The last - and only - time Orlando held Wade under 10, current Heat assistant Juwan Howard and Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue started for the Magic. ... Justise Winslow left in the third quarter with a sprained left ankle. ... Miami reached 100 points for the 15th straight home game. ... Briante Weber, signed earlier in the day, made his Heat debut with 2:43 left.
SEVEN NATION ARMY
The Magic started five players from five countries, a first in franchise history. Vucevic (Switzerland), Hezonja (Croatia), Fournier (France), Ersan Ilyasova (Turkey) and Elfrid Payton (U.S.) all hail from different countries. Throw Miami's Dragic (Slovenia) and Deng (South Sudan) in there, and a total of seven nations were represented on the floor to start the game.
''It shows that the league is changing. I really appreciate being a part of it,'' Fournier said.
Whiteside followed up the worst free-throw-shooting game of his career (minimum four attempts) with his best. After going 1 for 7 from the foul line on Friday in a loss at Orlando, he went 8 for 8 from the line on Sunday.
Magic: Host Milwaukee on Monday.
Heat: Visit Detroit on Tuesday.