The last time Miami and Orlando got together Ryan Anderson team act to lead the Magic to a convincing win over the Heat at Amway Center.
Now the two Southeast Division rivals will renew their hatred for each other this afternoon in South Beach, where the Heat will begin a three-game homestand versus Orlando, Sacramento and New York. In a 102-89 road loss to the Magic back on Feb. 8, Anderson had 27 points and 11 rebounds, while Howard posted 25 points and 24 boards.
Dwyane Wade paced the Heat with 33 points, including 18 in the second quarter, and LeBron James added 17 and 10 assists in the first of four meetings with the Magic this season. Orlando has won three of four and five of the previous seven matchups with the Heat.
These two teams have split the last 16 meetings at Miami.
James and the Heat have won each of their last five games and completed a six- game road trip (5-1) with Friday night's 111-87 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers. James scorched his former team for 28 points and Wade netted 22, as the Heat recorded its fifth straight victory of at least 15-plus points.
"It's special coming back here," James said after the game. "I know these fans, they know me. They know how competitive I am. I just try to go out there and lead my team to victory every night. I try to do what I can offensively and defensively. It's definitely special every time I come back here."
The Heat never trailed and moved to 6-1 against the Cavaliers since James signed with Miami during the summer of 2010. Chris Bosh added 16 points and 12 rebounds in his team's eighth win in the last nine tries. Miami is 12-2 as the host this season and sits four games ahead of Orlando for the division lead.
Miami has scored 100 or more points in 19 of the 31 games in 2011-12 (5 straight overall) and the recent win marked the first time Miami has had a cumulative winning record in the club's 24 seasons (943-942). The 24-7 ledger this season matched the best 31-game start in team annals. The previous best of 24-7 occurred in 1996-97 and 2004-05.
Orlando has won four in a row and eight of its last 10 games, and will commence a five-game road trip Sunday against the Heat, Bucks, Nets, Hawks and Wizards. The Magic are 8-5 as the guest this season and completed a perfect three-game homestand with Friday night's 94-85 triumph versus Milwaukee.
Howard finished with 26 points and 20 rebounds for his seventh 20/20 game of the season (6 in 2010-11) and 39th of his career. Howard has pulled down 20 or more boards eight times this season and 56 times during his NBA career.
Anderson added 23 points and Hedo Turkoglu scored 10 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter for the Magic, who got 11 points from J.J. Redick.
"We competed a lot harder in the second half," said Redick. "We were kind of just going through the motions and they were playing at a quicker pace than us for the first 22 minutes of that game."
The Magic did not have center Glen Davis versus the Bucks due to the death of his father and the former LSU star is questionable for Sunday's game.