Raptors overtake Heat in third quarter behind 13 straight stops

Miami committed a season-high 23 turnovers in Kyle Lowry's second return to Toronto.

“I think it was 13 straight stops, ties a record. I don’t know.”

That quote was from Nick Nurse while laughing a bit postgame, referencing the 21-0 Raptors run in the third quarter responsible for changing a contest Toronto had trailed the entire way into a double digit lead.

The Raptors defeated Miami for the second time this season, snapping the Heat’s three game win streak. Both teams came in hobbled, with Pascal Siakam missing a seventh straight game and other main pieces such as Gary Trent Jr. and Precious Achiuwa out. That was before Dalano Banton was lost to an ankle injury after making his second straight start. The Heat countered the injury report with Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro unavailable for this game.

Miami seemed to be in control, up 70-59 in the early stages of the third quarter. Then they weren’t.

Miami turnovers galore

The Heat went 7:18 without a basket after taking its biggest lead of the game at 11. A season-high 23 turnovers were a major reason the Raptors got back into the game. You would assume it’s your typical type of miscues, created by O.G. Anunoby playing a passing lane, or Fred VanVleet digging down for a steal, leading to the Raptors bread and butter fast break.

Not this game. Many of these turnovers were of the dead ball variety, such as stepping out of bounds and travelling. The Raptors did a great job playing the “unappreciated” style of defence. Staying in front of guys. Controlled closeouts on the perimeter. Add a passive Jimmy Butler (only 8 shot attempts all game) plus some sloppiness for Miami to the equation and the result was a series of mistakes that isn’t Erik Spolestra type basketball.

Guys like O.G. and Fred have received plenty of defensive praise already this season. Let’s give Juancho Hernangomez credit during this stretch. Hernangomez had a non box score, Reggie Evans type game (he didn’t score) but played sound position defence in his 23 minutes, finished a plus-17 (team high) and was on the court during the entire Miami drought.

“What he is really good at, which we needed tonight, is he chases down shooters. When they are flying around, he’s chasing them. He had a little trouble on the ball here and there, but the rest of this defence is good. He chases shooters, he knows the schemes, he blocks out. I thought he was a key.”

Nick Nurse on Juancho Hernangomez

Onto the offensive side of the comeback, quarterbacked by Fred VanVleet who had missed the previous two games with a non COVID related illness. Fred said after the game that he still feels “like s**t” but VanVleet had enough gas in the tank to rack up 13 points and four assists in the third quarter alone, giving the Raptors a 10 point lead.

Board Man gets paid

Miami is a small team to begin with. Not having Adebayo makes things even worse, as the Raptors hauled in 16 offensive rebounds compared to the Heat’s four. There were a bunch of crucial ones in the fourth quarter, spearheaded by Thaddeus Young who had more offensive boards (five) than Miami combined. The ensuing second chance points kept the momentum in Toronto’s favour down the stretch. Anunoby finished a wild sequence to give the Raptors a two possession lead with three minutes remaining.

Thad has gone from receiving DNP-CDs to at starting at centre the last three games. VanVleet gave some praise after the game.

“He does everything. He’s one of those guys if you were trying to teach a young guy how to play you just say watch Thad, watch him every possession. He tries to do everything the right way. His attention to detail and the way he executes the game plan. He’s physical, banging down there getting rebounds and he lays his body on the line. Super unselfish and just a great guy to have on your team, especially with guys trying to figure it out.”

Fred VanVleet on Thaddeus Young

Sidenote 1: O.G’s season high

A little more than a sidenote, but Anunoby finished with a season-high 32 points on an efficient 18 shots. He was especially aggressive in the first half, going downhill repeatedly with little resistance. Even Kyle Lowry, known for being unmovable in the post, couldn’t deal with O.G. on one possession. That set up some one-on-one creation in the second, via a couple of stepback midrange jumpers and a three pointer.

Sidenote 2: Scottie’s bounce back game

Scottie has had some rough ones lately but had his shot going early en route to a 19 point, six rebound, six assist performance. VanVleet was asked if there was a message to Scottie to which he replied: “There is no message man, you guys have fun on Twitter and thats about it.”

Barnes added a bit more when asked.

“I remember on the road Pascal and Fred telling me to stay being aggressive, be great four. Them boys giving me the confidence when I’m out there on the floor. I feel like that’s a big thing. I really took that to heart, them boys texting me when they’re at home doing what they’re trying to do to get better.”

Scottie Barnes

Sidenote 3: Kyle Lowry’s second return

Lowry was what you would expect. Some vintage pullup threes for 19 points and a couple of ref manipulation attempts that leaves a weird/funny feeling now that he is an opponent.

Fred elaborated a bit on his old teammate.

Both Fred and Kyle mentioned that they still watch each others game’s regularly.

Sidenote 4: The Fred-Koloko connection

You’re seeing more of this. Including the Fred orchestrated lob to O.G. in the third quarter clip earlier, there was three half court lobs from FVV. Easy offence!

Sidenote 5: …What?

Last note because I’m getting annoying.

Now Alvin. You damn well know how that sounds.

In all seriousness, its fun to see Alvin Williams getting more comfortable on the broadcast in his second year.

Next up: a couple of days off, then a trip to Atlanta.

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