The Miami Heat come in on a 4-game winning streak. The Raptors are on a 5-game winning streak of their own. They’ve also won a franchise record-tying 12 straight at home. They can set a new record tonight.
Kyle Lowry is out with back spasms. He took a nasty spill against the Nets, sandwiched between Joe Harris and an undercutting Quincy Acy. Hopefully he heals up well. The Heat have their share of injuries too. They will be missing Dion Waiters, Justise Winslow and Tyler Johnson.
DeMar DeRozan was named Player of the Week for the 3rd time this season. He scored a Raptors franchise record 52 points against the Bucks, and just keeps on getting better. The Raps will lean on him even more with Lowry out.
The game is off to a sluggish start. Dwane Casey is recognized during the first timeout:
End of Q1: Heat 22, Raps 21
Norm Powell has been out of the regular rotation. He got in and got off a fast break dunk. JV and Whiteside had a good back and forth for a minute there. Not much else is going on. LeSean McCoy and Tyrod Taylor of the Buffalo Bills are here.
Bam Adebayo and Wayne Ellington are killing the Raptors. Along with the refs, who refuse to give DeRozan anything but call a touch foul for Derrick Jones Jr. The Raps look discouraged, and the Heat are running the ball down their throats.
Dragic came alive at the end of the half, danced all around the Raps, and leads all scorers with 14.
I wasn’t here for the loss to the Wizards, so this is the worst half of Raptors basketball I’ve personally witnessed this season. It’s a back-to-back, they travelled last night, and they clearly miss Lowry. Regroup and turn it around, fellas!
The Raps come out strong, sparked by Ibaka. He gets a couple of steals, makes a layup on a 3-on-2 break, and nails a 3 to cap a 9–2 run to open the 3rd quarter. Spo takes a timeout.
And just like that, Ibaka is gone. James Johnson checked in, threw a karate chop at Ibaka’s neck, Ibaka threw a punch back and both got tossed. Miami certainly wins that exchange. Did Spo send JJ in specifically to fight Ibaka? Can’t be ruled out.
Dragic goes off and the Heat extend the lead again. The Raps are once again visibly frustrated with the refs, who are giving them nothing and awarding touch fouls to the Heat.
CJ Miles hits a couple of 3's at the end of the quarter to keep the Raps in striking distance.
End of Q3: Heat 72, Raps 64
Fred Van Vleet is leading the comeback! Lorenzo Brown is in to try his hand at slowing down Dragic.
Wright and DeRozan come back in, and each hit a 3 to pull the Raps within 3 with 3:20 to play. Bam Adebayo is still murdering the Raps.
DeRozan gets the Raps the lead with a couple of tough drives. In between, Adebayo and Dragic miss for Miami. Whiteside rebounds a long shot and somehow misses the putback. Delon controls the rebound after a scramble. Raps up 1, 57 seconds to go. A bucket feels necessary here.
DeRozan drives and throws a beautiful kick-out pass to a WIDE OPEN Norm Powell. Clank. Out of bounds, Raptors ball. 33 seconds, fresh shot clock. Norm catches the inbound and immediately goes for the layup. Misses. Heat ball with a full clock. Dragic gets a layup and the lead. The Raps have no timeouts. DeRozan drives, misses, puts back his own miss. Spo is super pissed off. Raps by 1. 3 seconds left. Somehow, Wayne Ellington gets a fucking layup. Ball game. Brutal.
DeRozan and Dragic got into it after the buzzer. DeMar has every right to be pissed off. He did everything to win this game. I didn’t see who messed up the last defensive play, but it shouldn’t have come to that. With 33 seconds and a 1-point lead, you run down the clock. Especially in a game where the refs are giving you nothing. Miami basically fouled on every action and dared the refs to call it. And the refs were like, okay go ahead!
Final: Heat 90, Raps 89
After a day off, the Raps stay home for a couple of measuring stick games: LeBron’s Cavaliers, followed by the defending champion Golden State Warriors. They will need Lowry to have any chance of winning.