Heat Check: Miami left with more heartache after home loss
MIAMI -- There was no second-quarter collapse this time around.
Only more heartache for the Miami Heat at AmericanAirlines Arena as their playoff hopes were all but been extinguished with a 107-104 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Saturday.
The Heat fought hard for 48 minutes, but ultimately it wasn't enough down the stretch to beat one of the East's better teams. Though there was plenty of effort and desire to achieve a breakthrough and secure a critical victory, there wasn't much support from the bench along with a disastrous 24-of-44 showing at the free-throw line that robbed the team of much-needed points.
Goran Dragic stormed out of the gate aggressive and in attack mode, leading all scorers in the first quarter with 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting (2 of 3 from beyond the arc).
Also showing plenty of energy from the start was Hassan Whiteside, who made his presence in the paint felt early and forced Raptors starting center Jonas Valanciunas to the bench with two fouls 82 seconds into the game. He would foul out late in the third quarter after just 10 minutes of action.
Miami played well in the first half but entered halftime tied with Toronto despite owning a 36-16 advantage in the paint and a 18-9 advantage in second-chance points. Much of that had to do with shooting 10 of 20 from the free-throw line and allowing Toronto reserve guard Lou Williams to go off for 17 points in the second quarter.
Neither team could create enough of a cushion for much of the second half to take control of the game. After a third quarter that mainly consisted of both teams trading baskets, the Raptors scored 11 consecutive points early in the fourth quarter to retake the lead after Chris Andersen knocked down a rare 3-pointer from the corner.
Miami tied the score at 92 with a Whiteside putback tip-in with less than five minutes remaining in the game.
DeMar DeRozan and Williams then combined to score 10 of the Raptors' final 15 points of the game. Wade, who led all scorers with 30 points, and Deng each missed a free throw in crunch time that could have tied the game. Instead, Williams converted a 3-pointer at the top of the key to ice the game and send the Heat to another bitter loss.
"We played a good game," said Dwyane Wade, who led all scorers with his seventh 30-point game of the season. "It just wasn't enough to win the ballgame. We had opportunities. In games like this, you can't make too many mistakes."
THE TURNING POINT
Toronto's 11-0 run deep into the fourth quarter was the first significant run of the game and was enough to take the lead and hold it for the rest of the game.
"It went so fast," said coach Erik Spoelstra of the run. "We felt like we were making progress and trying to get everybody on the same page and defend and get the ball where it needs to go on the other end, but we couldn't get the stops or keep them off the free throw line when we needed to. Even when we got some decent looks in the fourth quarter, we weren't able to get those down."
THE DIFFERENCE MAKER
Williams was a vital part of Toronto's offense and went 4 of 7 from 3-point territory to finish with 29 points off the bench.
STAT OF THE GAME
Led by Williams, Toronto's bench outscored the Heat's bench 56-21 for the game.
Miami hosts the Orlando Magic in their final home game of the season Monday at 7:30 p.m.