- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 24, 2010

ORLANDO, Fla. | First came “The Decision.” Then the expectations. Now the pressure is on the Miami Heat more than ever.

Even from the White House.

Dwight Howard had 24 points and 18 rebounds, J.J. Redick scored 20 points and the Orlando Magic beat Miami 104-95 on Wednesday night to hand the Heat’s All-Star trio its first three-game losing streak.

The slower-than-expected start for the Heat has resonated all the way to Washington, where President Barack Obama said before the game in an interview with ABC that it “takes some time for the team to come together.”


Nobody could have imagined it would take this long.

“If we had the answer right now, we wouldn’t be sitting at one game over .500,” LeBron James said of his Heat’s 8-7 start. “We’re a few games out of first. We’re a few games out of eighth.”

And they just hit a new low.

Jameer Nelson had 17 points and a career-high 14 assists, coming up with some big shots late to help Orlando pull away and avenge a 26-point loss at Miami earlier this season.

James had 25 points, Chris Bosh finished with 21 and Dwyane Wade scored 18 for Miami in the latest blow to the collection of stars who came together this summer hoping for a championship. Miami also lost to Memphis and Indiana in the last week, but the loss to its Sunshine State rival might sting most.

Even Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, told of Obama’s comments, joined in the fun.

“I know there’s a lot of time in the day, but I’d be more confident if he didn’t know what was going on in the NBA,” Van Gundy said, chuckling about Obama’s remarks. “We got to get some people back to work. I don’t think he needs to be worried about turning the Heat around. Let (Heat coach) Erik (Spoelstra) worry about that, because Erik certainly isn’t turning the economy around.”

At this rate, Spoelstra might contribute to the job losses.

The Heat’s disappointing start has fueled fodder for the Heat’s critics. Even Lakers coach Phil Jackson intimated that Spoelstra’s job could be in jeopardy if the Heat don’t start winning more — and fast.

Miami’s struggles certainly delight its neighbor to the north.

After the Heat acquired James this summer, Magic president of basketball operations Otis Smith questioned the two-time MVP’s competitiveness for leaving Cleveland. Heat President Pat Riley then took a shot at Smith’s personnel decisions, and Van Gundy — the former Heat coach — fired back at Riley.

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