The Miami HEAT fell to the Toronto Raptors 96-94 Friday night at Air Canada Centre. James Johnson led the way for the HEAT with 22 points.
1. J. Johnson Sticks With It
After a rough start to the game, Johnson showed mental toughness and bounced back in a big way in the second half. Thanks to some aggressive attacks to the basket and finishes around the rim, the burly forward tallied 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting after halftime.
One of his better plays of the night came early on in the third quarter. With a little over nine minutes left in the period, Johnson blew by Serge Ibaka and threw down the one-handed jam.
Of course, the 30-year-old also came to play on the defensive end, as he guarded Ibaka, Patrick Patterson and P.J. Tucker throughout the contest. He also made the right decision on when to switch onto Toronto’s guards.
In addition to his 22 points on 8-of-17 shooting, Johnson also had 10 boards, three assists, three steals and two blocks.
2. Whiteside Gets Going Late
While Hassan Whiteside played sparingly in the first half due to foul trouble, he made up for it with some big plays after halftime. None were as impactful as an offensive rebound and put-back he had over Ibaka late in the fourth quarter.
Otherwise, Whiteside did some damage at the free throw line and also had a few nice sequences of help-side defense. In all, the 27-year-old scored 12 points, grabbed 10 rebounds (four offensive) and dished out two assists.
3. Ellington Catches Fire In The Fourth
With Miami climbing back in the game at the end of the third quarter, Wayne Ellington did his best to get his team even closer in the final period. In fact, Ellington scored nine points in the fourth on 3-of-4 shooting from deep. His biggest trey of the evening came after Tyler Johnson swatted Kyle Lowry at the rim.
While that shot cut the deficit to 94-91 with 5.1 seconds left, it wasn’t quite enough in the end. Ellington finished with 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting.
-Josh Richardson competed extremely hard against DeMar DeRozan and forced him into some tough looks. Let’s take a look at a perfect example of that late in the third quarter.
With 1:47 left in period, Richardson got a piece of DeRozan’s jump shot and then finished a tough layup in transition over Patterson.
When it was all said and done, Richardson scored 10 points, dished out four assists and stole the ball three times in addition to that aforementioned block.
-In what was a slow first half for the HEAT, Rodney McGruder did some damage off the dribble against the Raptors. In addition to a few of his usual runners, the Scavenger also came up with two offensive rebounds and put-backs before halftime. On the flip side of the ball, he defended Lowry quite well. McGruder ended up with nine points, five rebounds and two assists.
-Goran Dragić primarily attacked the basket and finished with 18 points on the night.
-Luke Babbitt (strained right hip flexor), Dion Waiters (sprained left ankle), Justise Winslow (right shoulder surgery) and Josh McRoberts (left foot stress fracture) sat out.
-The HEAT will get right back at it Saturday night against the Wizards at 7:00 PM. Miami will then return home for a matchup with the Cavaliers on Monday at 7:30 PM. Tickets for that game can be found here.