Heat 95, Raptors 89

The Raptors lost to the Heat yesterday afternoon. Surprised? Unlikely, but if you missed the game you might want to find a way to watch it. Toronto hung with Miami in the first half, fell behind in the third, and fought back to within three with just over three minutes to go in the fourth. That’s when LeBron James decided to hit a pair of free throws, get a steal, and dunk the Raptors’ hopes into oblivion. I know many of you want this team to tank, so you should be happy.

Speaking of LeBron James, he had a fairly unremarkable outing considering he finished with 30 points and nine rebounds on 10-17 shooting. James scored 12 points on six shots in the first quarter, with much of the damage coming against DeMar DeRozan. With about three minutes left in the first, though, Toronto shifted into a zone. They used this for about two-thirds of the game and James often opted to settle for long jumpers against it instead of attacking the rim. He only had two assists; his season-low previously was five. Kind of amazing that he can put up those numbers while looking a bit passive.

You know who wasn’t passive? DeRozan. He almost matched James’s first quarter output, with 11 points on 5-7 shooting. He was confident, made quick moves, and hit the jumpers we learned to expect from him last year. He even took Mario Chalmers into the mid-post and hit a lefty runner. He also drove through the whole Heat team and dunked it hard. That was fun.

Yup, DeRozan was awesome. He started 7-10, finished 8-16, and made up for some late misses by shooting 9-11 from the free throw line. I’m pretty pleased with a 25-point performance against the Heat.

One interesting thing to note: the only three-pointer DeRozan attempted was on a broken play at the end of the shot clock. He basically played like he did last season. DeRozan’s three-point percentage has plummeted and perhaps it’s simpler for him to cut that shot out, but in the long-term it still needs to be a part of his game. This is something to watch.

If DeRozan’s performance was the most encouraging, Ed Davis’s was right behind it. He shot 4-5 and finished with eight points and eight rebounds in 30 minutes, the most of any Raptors big. His release isn’t the prettiest thing in the world, but he knocked down two jumpers. The huge putback dunk and the blocks on Haslem and Bosh weren’t bad, either. Dwane Casey has spoken about wanting more energy and concentration from Davis — there were a couple of defensive lapses, but I imagine Casey was happy with him.

Jose Calderon did not have his best night. He sat for the last 16 minutes of the game after committing three of the Raptors’ eight turnovers in the third quarter. He had an uncharacteristic five turnovers in the game. As a result, Jerryd Bayless played a game-high and personal season-high 39 minutes. He scored 9 of his 17 points in the fourth, including a three and a floater on back-to-back possessions that cut the lead to three before the aforementioned LeBron takeover. It should be noted that he followed up that three/floater combo with an ill-advised quick three that shouldn’t have surprised anyone. Loved the effort, didn’t love the inefficiency.

If we’re talking inefficiency, Leandro Barbosa had Bayless topped. He shot 1-8 in 12 minutes — after making a driving layup immediately after entering the game, he was unable to score a single point. There was an airball from deep, a missed three with Amir Johnson wide open in front of him, and there was this:

I will never forget #holdholdholdshoot.

Linas Kleiza is the last active Raptor I’ll mention. He entered the fourth with five points on 1-5 shooting, then scored 12 points on eight shots in the final frame. Kleiza frustrates me with his inconsistency, but he was a big part of that late rally and it’s obvious he needs to shoulder a lot of the offensive burden in Andrea Bargnani’s absence.

Oh yeah. Bargnani. That guy. The best part about this game was that I barely even thought about him. Maybe I’m just used to him being sidelined by now, but I’d like to give the other guys some credit for playing well enough that I wasn’t constantly thinking about how different it would be if he was out there.

On that note, maybe the Raptors would have won if Bargnani was in the lineup. Maybe they would have won if Barbosa hit a couple of jumpers or the team took care of the ball in the third. The Heat weren’t at their best, but the Raptors weren’t supposed to compete in this game and they were right there. Moral victory? I’d say so. I’ll end this with some stats:

  • Chris Bosh shot 3-13 for 12 points. He has shot 17-46 in his last four games. Our old friend is in a bit of a funk. Remember how well he was playing with Dwyane Wade out?
  • Wade didn’t dominate, but still quietly filled it up scoring-wise. He had 25 points on 8-14 shooting, but added just two rebounds and three assists.
  • You’re no doubt aware that the Raptors lead the league in fouls per game, at 23.8 (thank you, TeamRankings). They had 25 tonight, with eight of them coming in the fourth quarter. Miami shot 9-12 from the line in the fourth, with all but two of them taken by James and Wade.
  • Did you know how poorly Shane Battier has been shooting? He was 0-4 tonight in 17 minutes and is shooting 0-10 in his last four games. He’s shooting 31.3% on the season, 31% from deep, and 47.1% from the line. I’m sure he’ll come around and I’d still vote for him to be the President of Everything, but wow. Rough.
  • Toronto has the worst average first-quarter margin in the league at -4.4 (again, TeamRankings is a useful site). Today, the margin was four.
  • That first quarter was the worst defensive quarter for the Raptors, largely because it took them so long to break out the zone. The Heat shot 11-16 in the first, 7-20 in the second, 8-21 in the third, and 5-12 in that foul-heavy fourth.

  • 2damkule

    i was shaking my head pre-tip at the lineup.  i get that they’ve had some modicum of success going with jose/bayless in the backcourt & DD @ the 3, JJ the 4 & gray at the 5…but looking at who they’d be up against, i’m not sure it made much sense.  DD on lebron?  bayless on wade?  perhaps the thinking was that it didn’t matter who was guarding them, they’d get theirs, and the idea was to make both work at the defensive end?  it was just odd seeing how long it took for DC to recognize that wade/lebron were taking their man into the post pretty much every time down the floor (and as much as they tried, neither bayless or DD are capable of defending them down there…or anywhere).

    and then, the classic raptor head coach move: going right back to the same starting lineup to start the 2nd half.

    all in all, not really much to complain about.  they played hard, put up with the smirking, condescending doucheholes, played through some pretty iffy calls (not that a game vs. the heat called straight would have ended any differently, it would just be nice not to see calls made – or calls go unmade – based on the name on the back…sigh, to dream), and generally played like a team trying to win (vs. a team trying not to lose/keep it close/not get embarassed).

    • jimmie

      That starting lineup was ahead 15-14 halfway through the 1st quarter, and down 4 at the end of the quarter. Not sure it was an issue. That’s about the best you can expect against Miami without your top scorer.

    • http://peterd.mp Beagle17

      You really ought to try using your shift-key a bit more. Your posts are bloody hard to read.

  • AB7.38pt.on.CB4

    CB4 to CB1. What a joke. This low IQ Ball player is not even good as the CatWoman in South Beach Florida. 

    No balls (cojones), no heart, not good enough. Plain and simple.

    He is just a decent jump shooter, like most euro players, with a 6’10 frame.

    Franchise Player ? Give me a break. 

    Max Contract ? In his pipe dreams

    Miami ? Yes, The Big Two (Shaq camping on CB4/1).

    • Ihatehaters

      It’s been over a year, dude. Get over it!

    • Lorenzo

      You’re going way over the top with these shots at Bosh, give the guy a break.

      His game is a lot more than just a jumpshot, he’s as polished as a power forward can be in the NBA.

      I understand the hate people can have on him towards what he did in the summer of 2010, but the dude never said anything to slander Toronto negatively; and is a very nice person.

  • Brian B

    Agreed with earlier comment that the small lineup was an error – both James & Wade had big days. Kudos to the raps for picking up the tempo, being aggressive. DD even took a charge on James! Let’s see if they can keep it up – can’t judge from one game. 

  • Nilanka15

    Finally, a good game from DeRozan.  Despite being outmatched on the defensive end, I liked his effort.  For the 1st time in recent memory, he seemed to be engaged in the game, and was determined not to make things easy for whoever was guarding him.  Let’s hope this performance wasn’t an outlier.

    • 2damkule

      2012: when ‘recent memory’ doesn’t stretch back more than 5 days.

      • Nilanka15

        Correction: 32 days.  IMO, DeRozan’s last good game was vs. Cleveland on January 4th.

        • 2damkule

          relatively-speaking, wasn’t his last ‘good’ game on tues (31st)?  it’s all subjective, but again, for HIM, i think his game the other day was ‘good.’  perhaps not by certain expectations… 

          • Nilanka15

            Relatively speaking, yes.  DeMar scored 20+ points vs. New Jersey the other day. 

            But I mentioned it then too, the performance didn’t impress me much.

  • Nilanka15

    Sam Mitchell has gone on record several times suggesting that Miami should trade Wade to Orlando for Howard.  It makes sense when you think about it.  There’s redundancy when LeBron and Wade are sharing minutes.  One does nothing while the other one watches.  Bringing in Howard would make Miami a much more balanced team.  As for Orlando, they get a superstar in return (which isn’t usually the case when franchise players leave town).

    • Bendit

      That’ll never happen…not unless the Heat want the lid flipped on the water-carrying Wade did for Riley during the shenanigans of the f/a signings. What Riley could not do directly with players, Wade carried the message.

    • Raps Loyalist

      Miami wouldn’t trade Wade.  He’s an icon in Miami, brought them there only championship, and they want him to retire with the Heat so he’s one of those all-timers that only ever played with one franchise (the team can milk him for decades after if he only ever played in Miami and vise versa).  Plus, he is clearly a better closer/primary scoring option than LeChoke.

      Trade James and Mike Miller for Howard and JJ Reddick!

      James already proved he’s disloyal and will jump ship whenever so if you trade him for Howard you can at least keep Dwight guaranteed for longer.  There is no way James plays out the rest of his career in Miami…he will opt-out as soon as he can to go to New York or L.A. as soon as he rides Wade to a championship.

      Also, we all know Interior Defense and Rebounding wins championships and D Ho is the best at both in the league.  Plus, Bosh is more effective/worth the money as a 2nd scoring option (as he shows whenever either Wade or James is out).

      • Nilanka15

        The only thing to consider in this scenario is Wade’s age.  He’s already 30.  The window of opportunity for multiple championships would be longer with a younger LeBron sticking around.

  • cesco

    It would be nice to see , starting in March , Andrea and DD playing like (near)all stars together and put up 50 points combined nearly every night . Everyone will then be salivating thinking of the draft , FA’s season and JV arrival . The dream is not that irrational is it? .

    • Raps Loyalist

      I am desperately fearing a meaningless late season run that drops our draft position 5 spots (as has happened in the past several times).  Building momentum for next season is always hyped but momentum from a 10 game stretch doesn’t carry over 6 months later!!!  I hope AB and Ed and DD play great for the rest of the season but at the same time there is a huge difference from drafting 4th and drafting 8th so hopefully not winning meaningless games that hurt the team long-term great.

      I love these close losses!!!! Not when they are happening but about 10mins later hahaha

      I’m cheering for a Washington win on Monday…oh to be a Raptors fan!

      Already looking forward to next year with JV on board with hopefully another top prospect on the wing

      ps.  I’m loving Kidd-Glichrist’s game..he’s the exact type of player we need on the wing.

  • 511

    I was most impressed with some of the defense I saw from Ed Davis. Might’ve only been a few plays but they were strikingly solid, even for this year. One was Miami’s last possession of the first quarter: LeBron had the ball just outside the top of the key and Ed was staring him down, squared up, perfect form; James faked a step to go around him, Ed didn’t bite; James faked a shot, Ed didn’t bite; James finally let a shot go over Ed and missed. I noticed a couple other (player) one-on-one defensive moments like that for the Raps that to me, really illustrate how far (incredibly goddam far) they’ve come in that area since TBOC (The Beginning Of Casey). When these guys get some offense-related-skills and moves to work with and a little more talent, this whole thing might get fun, quickly. 

    • 2damkule

      i remember the play you described as well.  to me, that, and the two short jumpers he hit, are signs that ed’s confidence has grown.

  • Statement

    11 fta’s?  Yes Please.

    I  know McGee is patrolling the paint tonight, but don’t lose that aggresiveness, Demar.

    As Jack Armstrong said, use the pump-fake and the knuckleheads will fall for it.

    • Nilanka15

      Jack doesn’t hesitate to rip opposing players.  I wonder what he says about the Raps off air.

      • Statement

        That’s a good question.

        The one rip candidate this year would surely be Derozan. Once shitfaced, I could see him laying into Derozan about his lack of getting to the line.

        Other than that, I couldn’t really see him going after anybody else.  I mean, to do so would be like mocking somebody with down syndrome for being mentally slow.

        • Statement

          Or an alcoholic for being shitfaced