Game Rap: Huskies 96, Heat 94

Holly MacKenzie – Raptors.com

IT WAS OVER WHEN

DeMar DeRozan scored on a drive to the basket to put the Raptors ahead by six with 25.4 seconds remaining. The Heat did not go away easily, but the Raptors collected a 96-94 victory behind DeRozan’s 38-point night. The victory moved Toronto to 49 wins for the season with two games remaining in the regular season.

A START TO FORGET

Outside of DeMar DeRozan, the first quarter was not kind to either team. While DeRozan played the entire quarter and scored 16 points to help Toronto to a seven-point lead after one, the rest of the team struggled. DeRozan was 6-for-9 in the opening 12 minutes, while the rest of the Raptors went 4-of-13 from the floor. Luckily for Toronto, the Heat were even worse to start, making just 5-of-22 field goals to shoot 23 percent in the quarter. Goran Dragic led the way for Miami with nine points as DeRozan’s 16 helped Toronto to a 26-19 lead after one.

STARTING TO ROLL

Things got easier for both teams in the second quarter. Miami bounced back from their dismal first quarter showing to shoot 46 percent in the second as former Raptors player James Johnson scored nine points. Toronto shot slightly worse, making 43 percent of its field goals, but outscored the Heat 27-24 in the quarter to take a 10-point lead into the half. Toronto led by 18 midway through the second quarter, but allowed Miami to close on a 19-11 run to trim the lead to 53-43 at the break. Thanks to another strong quarter, DeMar DeRozan led all scorers at the half with 25 points on 10-for-18 field goals.

CREEPING CLOSER

After shooting 44 percent in the first half, Toronto went cold from the floor in the third, scoring just 17 points on 32 percent shooting. As Miami had its best shooting quarter of the game, making 39 percent of its attempts, the Heat managed to trim Toronto’s 10-point halftime lead in half to go into the fourth trailing by five. In a repeat of the second quarter, Toronto led by 16 with 7:19 remaining before the Raptors allowed Miami to close the third on an 18-7 run. Toronto led 70-65 heading into the fourth.

DOWN TO THE WIRE

Things went down to the final seconds of the fourth with Miami refusing to quit as they continue to fight for a playoff spot in a crowded Eastern Conference. Things were tight throughout the final quarter with the Heat tying things up at 82 with 4:21 remaining. A 3-pointer from Serge Ibaka — assisted by DeMar DeRozan — put Toronto ahead and they never trailed again as DeRozan and Lowry scored the final 11 points for the Raptors. Miami was hot late, shooting 52 percent in the fourth — and continued to creep closer into the final seconds, but a layup from DeRozan and free throws down the stretch kept Toronto in front.

RAPTORS PLAYER OF THE GAME

DeMar DeRozan led all scorers with 38 points in 38 minutes. He shot 14-for-32 from the floor including 10-for-11 from the free throw line. DeRozan added six rebounds, two assists, a steal and a blocked shot as he scored nine of his 38 in the fourth as the Raptors fended off a hungry Heat team late.

UNDERRATED RAPTORS PLAYER(S) OF THE GAME

Cory Joseph had another impactful performance in his second game back to being a reserve with Kyle Lowry’s return to the starting lineup. Joseph played 27 minutes, leading all reserves in scoring with 14 points on 5-for-10 field goals. He made both of his 3-point attempts, both of his free throw attempts, and added four rebounds and three assists to go with three steals.

THAT’S A RAP…

“Emotionally, spiritually, physically lock in, completely. Understand it’s going to get real after these next two games. Come next weekend, it’s a whole different dynamic of basketball. That’s the best part of the year. That’s what you work for to play into April, going into May and so on.”
– DeMar DeRozan on what the team needs to do to prepare for the postseason

BY THE #’S

9… Made 3-pointers for Toronto who shot 9-for-20 from beyond the arc. Miami shot 8-for-23 from beyond the arc.

19… Turnovers for the Heat leading to 25 points scored by the Raptors. Toronto turned the ball over 18 times leading to 22 points scored by Miami.

12… Points, seven rebounds, six assists, and two steals for Kyle Lowry in his second game back from a 21-game absence as he recovered from wrist surgery.

THEY SAID IT…

“We are getting ready for what’s coming. The next guy has to be ready, whether it’s Delon or Norm, the next guy has to be ready. It’s the way playoffs are going to be with a shorter rotation. Jakob has to be ready just in case of foul trouble. They can give us something, they can come in and give us some energy, some defence and I thought Jakob and Delon came in in the first half and gave it to us.”
– Dwane Casey on a shorter rotation with the playoffs looming

“I just missed some shots tonight. I got some good looks, I missed some good shots, give the Miami defence some credit, but I missed open looks that I had tonight. DeMar held it down and he was the aggressor tonight, and he did his job tonight, and everyone played well defensively.”
– Kyle Lowry on a rough shooting night and backcourt mate DeMar DeRozan leading the team offensively

“He still orchestrated everything. Defensively, just having his mind and body out there does a lot. A lot of times Kyle don’t have to get it going scoring-wise to will us to a victory. That’s the great thing about him. Teams still gotta respect him while he’s out there. The whole dynamic is still the same if he’s making shots. It’s great just to have him out there.”
– DeMar DeRozan on Kyle Lowry’s impact on the game regardless of scoring numbers

UP NEXT:

The Raptors will head to New York where they’ll take on the Knicks at the Garden in a Sunday matinee at 12 P.M. ET.

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