Chris Bosh shook the hands of his former Toronto teammates before the game, did more cordial chatting at halftime and made plans to meet up with some of them for a postgame meal.
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And in between, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade showed the Raptors why Bosh wanted to be with them in Miami.
Wade scored 31 points, James added 23 points and 11 assists and the Heat snapped a two-game slide with a 109-100 win over the Raptors on Saturday night in Bosh’s first game against the club with whom he spent his first seven NBA seasons.
”I’m glad we got it out of the way,” Bosh said. ”I’m glad we got to play each other – and I’m glad we won, most importantly.”
Bosh finished with 12 points in just under 22 minutes, his night marred by foul trouble.
Miami (6-4) scored the game’s first seven points and never trailed. James Jones had 14 points, Zydrunas Ilgauskas finished with 12 and Udonis Haslem finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds – his second-straight double-double off the bench – for the Heat, who don’t play again until hosting Phoenix on Wednesday.
Andrea Bargnani had 22 points and nine rebounds for Toronto (2-8). DeMar DeRozan added 21 points, Jose Calderon and Sonny Weems each scored 15 and Amir Johnson finished with 14 for the Raptors.
”I played with him for six years,” Calderon said of Bosh. ”It was strange to look across the court and see him there and not with you.”
Toronto’s Reggie Evans was a late scratch with flulike symptoms, after originally being penciled into the night’s starting lineup.
The Raptors had the Heat feeling a little squeamish by night’s end, too. Miami’s lead was only 91-87 after Calderon made two free throws with 6:25 left, but a 12-2 run saved the Heat.
Haslem started it with an alley-oop lob from James, then Wade followed with a layup where he blew past Weems first, then twisted in the air around Bargnani. Wade quickly added a tomahawk dunk after taking a handoff from James, and the reigning two-time MVP made it 101-89 with a slam in transition off the left wing.
”We’re two of the best at that, making plays,” Wade said.
The Raptors came into the game tied with Philadelphia for the worst record in the Eastern Conference, even after winning in Orlando on Friday night, but hardly rolled over for Miami. The Heat took double-digit leads 10 times in the first half, only to see the Raptors shave the deficit back to single digits every time.
And that trend continued in the third quarter, certainly to Bosh’s chagrin.
”That’s one thing we could do, we could shoot the ball,” Bosh said, slipping into old habits by saying ”we” when talking about the Raptors. ”When I was in Toronto, we could shoot the ball. We had offense.”
Bosh acknowledged it ”most definitely” meant more than just any regular-season contest and wasn’t shy about emotions show on the floor, either. Bosh made a spin move on Johnson with 8:46 left in the third, then used a reverse pivot to set up a dunk while getting fouled – punctuating it all with a long scream.
It was a yell reminiscent of the one he let out July 9, at the same end of Miami’s home arena, at the party after he, James and Wade after all signed their new Heat deals. The Raptors wanted to keep Bosh during this summer’s long-awaited free-agent period, but it had been widely – and, as it turns out, correctly – presumed that he would leave Toronto to chase a title elsewhere.
Just like the Toronto days, the scream seemed to fire up the Raptors.
Bosh’s three-point play made it 73-55, and the Raptors immediately answered with a 16-3 run to get within five with 3 minutes left in the period. Seven different Toronto players scored during the burst, capped by Calderon’s long jumper that made it 76-71. But the Raptors shot just 1 for 5 throughout the rest of the quarter, and Miami’s edge was back to 83-73 entering the fourth.
Even then, it wasn’t over.
”There was no added incentive … no emotion,” said Raptors guard Jarrett Jack, a close Bosh friend for years going back to their time together at Georgia Tech. ”It was all about beating the Miami Heat and we didn’t get that done.”
DeRozan’s dunk off an alley-oop lob from Weems with 9:50 left made it an eight-point game, and following a turnover by Wade on the ensuing Miami possession, Calderon’s 20-footer got Toronto within 87-81.
It was never less than a two-possession game the rest of the way.
”We just have to keep on continuing to grind games defensively and build those habits,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. ”And that’s what I told the guys after the game.”
Notes: With Bosh now having faced his former team for the first time, the countdown is on for James’ Dec. 2 trip to Cleveland. ”It’s too early for me” to think about, James said. … Ilgauskas replaced Joel Anthony as Miami’s starting center. ”For now,” Spoelstra said. … In addition to the still-sore leg, James played with a scraped back after getting cut by a courtside microphone stand Thursday night. … The Raptors fell to 8-21 all-time in Miami.