Raptors 101 – Miami Heat 81: That’s seven straight

An injury-riddled Miami Heat squad was behind early to the Raptors. They never caught up.

The Toronto Raptors didn’t need their best offensive effort last night, which was good, because they didn’t get it. Instead, they defended well, contested virtually every shot, and stepped on the gas at the right time. The result was a 20-point victory over a depleted Miami Heat team which deserves props for not folding until very late.

The Raptors scoring parade was once again led by DeMar DeRozan, who’s been a force of nature lately. His third straight 30+ point effort was fashioned by unusually fine shooting from beyond the 3-point arc. DD nailed 4 of 5 from beyond, and his mates weren’t far off. The team shot 52% (13 of 25) from distance, which was better than their overall mark of 46.7%. Don’t expect to see those upside-down numbers again anytime soon.

Kyle Lowry, team-first guy that he is, didn’t feel the compulsion to match his friend’s output. Our point guard was content to pass and defend, though he did take enough shots to score 15 points. His six assists were useful, as was his game-clinching steal and 3-point play against Josh Richardson, who probably wanted to dig a hole and cover himself up. Following a Miami miss, DD nailed his last 3-ball of the night, after which both teams’ starters were substituted. The pizza slice clinching basket (i.e., the Raptors made a century and won) was made by Delon Wright on a floating hook shot, to the crowd’s delight.

Jan 22, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors forward Terrence Ross (31) reacts as Miami Heat forward Gerald Green (14) tries to take the ball from him at the Air Canada Centre. Toronto defeated Miami 101-81. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Miami received excellent play from their Big Two of Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. They combined for 48 points; meaning that their mates totalled 33….more like the Miami Cold. Tyler Johnson managed to make a hash of an uncontested dunk, which was ruled an offensive goaltending. I’ve never seen that before. The back of the rotation people for the Heat aren’t ready for major minutes. Rookie Justise Winslow had three shots blocked.

This game wasn’t entirely a laugher for the Raptors. How they got out-rebounded by the Heat missing Hassan Whiteside is something coach Dwane Casey will be inquiring of his big men. I suspect he won’t be polite while doing so. Udonis Haslem had 9 boards in less than 16 minutes of play, and I think he defended Wilt Chamberlain (OK, he didn’t, but he’s been around a long time).

Terrence Ross was underutilized – again. He took four shots and made them all. Why isn’t he getting his number called more often? His lone assist was a fine drive and dish to Bismack Biyombo, another play TRoss does well but not regularly.

Cory Joseph’s shooting woes continued. He’s been unable to find his mid-range stroke recently and is 3 of 15 in his last 3 games. With both CoJo and Patrick Patterson not scoring, the second unit couldn’t hold the Heat at bay. Dwane Casey would have been happy to sit his All-Star backcourt for the entire fourth quarter, but that indulgence was withheld. Lowry and DeRozan both played their usual minutes.

The Raptors’ offensive misfirings could be papered over against a decimated Heat team, but that’s a luxury the team can’t afford against their next opponent. The Los Angeles Clippers, with exactly the same record as Toronto, visit Sunday night.