Although the Toronto Raptors’ last 3 games had resulted in victories, their play had been desultory at best. To beat the NBA-champion Miami HEAT, the Raps would need to rediscover their A game. While there were occasions in last night’s game in which there were reminders of what Toronto can be at its best, they didn’t endure. For the fourteenth straight time, Miami came out on top.
The Raps have been suffering from poor second-half play this week, and that trend was in sharp focus again. An offensive meltdown (caused in part, and in fairness, by stifling Miami defense) resulted in a pitiful 32 points after intermission. That happened to be the total number of points scored by one LeBron James, who didn’t miss his normal running mates, like Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen and Greg Oden (none of whom dressed), in the slightest.
The game was an all-around disaster for Toronto. Kyle Lowry struggled with his shot, committed more turnovers that he had assists, and then left the game with a knee injury caused by colliding with James earlier. Terrence Ross has picked a bad time of the season to slump. He scored one bucket all game, and missed his 4 tries from distance. Amir Johnson has also been having difficulty hitting the scoresheet lately; he scored only 2 baskets on this night. While Patrick Patterson’s return to the lineup was most welcome, his rustiness was apparent. The HEAT, who don’t outrebound anybody, beat the Raps 36-30 on the boards. When our top scorer is second-unit guard Greivis Vasquez with 17, you know it’s an off-night.
I don’t wish to give credence to rumblings about how the referees seem to constantly whistle in the HEAT’s favour, so I won’t comment on the fact the HEAT took 22 free throws to the Raps’ 10. No doubt it’s just happenstance that Chris Bosh “won” both “block-or-charge?” calls early on, or that DeMar DeRozan (7th in the NBA in free throws attempted) went to the line once.
Jonas Valanciunas continued his recent strong play with a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds. Steve Novak made his case for more minutes, going 4 of 6 from beyond the arc.
The Raptors were due for a stinker, after those close wins over poor teams. Players need a short memory in pro sports – that game is done, let’s prepare for a tough Houston Rockets team, in Toronto on Wednesday.
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