On most nights its Dwyane Wade and LeBron James that soak up the majority of the attention surrounding the Heat, but that wasn't the case on Wednesday in Toronto. Instead, it was the other member of the Big 3 that had the spotlight fixed squarely on him, as Chris Bosh was showered with a chorus of boo's while making his first return to the Air Canada Centre since leaving the Raptors to join the Heat last summer.
The home team got out to an early 6-point lead, led by Andrea Bargnani who scored 7 quick points. I figured it would take Miami a little while to get going after playing last night in Indiana, but they responded well to the fast start by the Raptors and went on a 13-2 run to go up 19-14. The Heat would finish the 1st quarter shooting over 60% but turnovers would keep their lead to only 2.
A few minutes into the 2nd quarter Jerryd Bayless got flattened by an Erick Dampier screen, and that led to a monster jam by Chris Bosh. He wasn't having an attention grabbing game, but Bosh was steadily providing great minutes on both ends of the floor for Miami throughout the opening half. He led the Heat in points at the break with 14, including a perfect 6-for-6 at the line.
11 turnovers killed the Heat in the 1st half, which is why despite them shooting 58% and holding the Raptors to just 42%, they led by just 4. It took less then three minutes for that to change once the 3rd quarter began. Chris Bosh hit back-to-back shots and D-Wade sunk a pair of free throws, and just like that Miami had a double-digit lead.
If not for Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan this game wouldn't have been as close as it was. Late in the 3rd they accounted for 41 of Toronto's 61 points and yet they were still down by 10, but that would soon begin to change. Miami started the 4th quarter making just 1 of their first 8 shots while turning the ball over 3 times, allowing the Raptors to get within 5 points of the Heat.
As the game got down to the home stretch, I wasn't very happy to see the Heat putting up outside jumpers instead of driving with the ball. The passive approach to their offense allowed Toronto to make it a 4-point game with 4 minutes left. It was at that point that something must have been said on the Heat bench because following a timeout, Miami attacked the rim on 4 of their next 5 possessions.
Bargnani would hit a couple of triples in the final few minutes, each one cutting the Heat lead back down to 4, but that would be as close as Toronto would get. As I mentioned earlier, if not for Bargnani then Miami would have ran away with this one. He scored 17 of his game-high 38 in the 4th quarter, including 14 of Toronto's final 18 points over the last 7 minutes. I give LeBron a lot of credit for driving with the ball and forcing the issue during crunch time. All 7 of the points he scored late in the game came either on layups or at the foul line.
Though the score sheet wouldn't really indicate it, Erick Dampier was awesome down the stretch for the Heat. In the games final two minutes Damp had 2 points and 3 rebounds en route to his second straight majorly productive night. Dampier can be a very valuable down-low asset for the Heat; I just hope that the recent faith shown to him by the coaching staff isn't forgotten during the All-Star break.
- Last night was just the 4th sellout of the season for Toronto.
- Miami is now a season-high 26-games over .500.
- In his 1st game back in Toronto, Chris Bosh had 25 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal. He was also 11-of-12 from the charity stripe, unaffected by the hostile Raptors fans.
- With no Mike Miller I was expecting to see more of James Jones but that wasn't the case. Coach Spo went with smaller lineups, using Carlos Arroyo and Eddie House in the spots that Miller and Jones normally take.
- The Heat is now 18-2 when the Big 3 combine for at least 75 points. They had 76 last night in Toronto.
- For the 3rd time on their 4-game road trip Miami turned the ball over at least 17 times.
- LeBron finished with 23 points, 13 rebounds and 8 assists. The 13 boards tied a season-high.
- For the second straight game Erick Dampier made a difference for Miami. He scored 8 points and grabbed 10 boards, a season-high.
- D-Wade had a quietly productive night following his 41-point game in Indiana on Tuesday. Dwyane finished with 28 points, 7 rebounds, an assist, a steal and 2 blocked shots.
Miami heads into the All-Star break winning 10 of their last 11 games. They pick things back up on Tuesday night when the Sacramento Kings come to South Beach. Until then, we'll get to see several members of the Heat play over the weekend in Los Angeles. James Jones will represent the team on Saturday night in the 3-point shootout, then Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and LeBron James are all playing in Sunday's main event.