Miami returned home to face a Raptors team not far from them in a crowded Eastern Conference. Seeds 2-10 are separated by the thinnest of margins and it remains hard to get a gauge on which competition is for real and for which teams are merely having good early-season fortunes.
Miami had won their first game against Toronto, in part, because Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan struggled from the field, but tonight, DeRozan was dynamic early and Lowry late. DeRozan finished with 30 points on 10-17 shooting, drilling a number of incredibly difficult midrange baskets on percentages well above his norms. Lowry finished with 21 points, 12 of them in the 4th quarter, attacking the rim relentlessly. Both players were able to use a variety of fakes in isolation to get to the foul line and each had four assists
In addition, veteran big man Luis Scola had a 12-point first quarter and finished with 20, while Toronto also received a balanced performance from both James Johnson and Terrance Ross. Bismack Biyombo had 15 rebounds and altered many Miami shots at the rim.
Miami was led by Dwyane Wade, who had 21 points on a tidy 8-16 shooting, but Wade committed an uncharacteristic eight turnovers, many of them unforced. Miami as a team only had 13, so it's difficult to pin the blame on anyone else in that regard. Miami's most dynamic player ended up being Gerald Green, who continued his recent hot shooting by scoring 20 points and making 5-10 from beyond the arc. Goran Dragic scored 18 while Chris Bosh added 11. Hassan Whiteside pulled down 13 rebounds and blocked five shots.
It was a tight, competitive affair for most of the first half and Miami managed to go into halftime with a 55-50 lead thanks to some hot Gerald Green shooting and an aggressive Dragic. Miami's lead ballooned to 11 in the early portion of the 3rd quarter, but from that point on, it was all Raptors. The Raptors shot 72% in the 3rd quarter, and outscored Miami in the 2nd half 58-39. Miami had few answers for DeRozan and Lowry, and every time Miami would get within a point or two, it seemed the Raptors would make the timely baskets to get their lead back up to seven or eight.
- It's a bit perplexing that Chris Bosh only took eight shots in a game where he very blatantly blew by both Patrick Patterson and Luis Scola in separate sequences for highlight dunks. Bosh shot 4-8 and played 29 minutes.
- The rotation was a bit out of sorts with Justise Winslow picking up three 1st quarter fouls and Luol Deng struggled with his shot (2-9) after a few strong outings.
- The "Deng at power forward" lineups were getting a lot of attention as of late, but Deng had trouble keeping the likes of James Johnson and Patrick Patterson off the boards or exploit his perimeter advantages on them.
- This is the first time Toronto has ever defeated Bosh in a professional basketball game.
- Good minutes from Beno Udrih in relief of Tyler Johnson again.
- Dragic was strong early, but faded late, scoring only one 4th quarter point. And for as well as he's played, he is slumping from three. He has only made one try from three on his last 16 attempts. Dragic is a career 36% three point shooter and shot 38% in his last season-and-a-half in Phoenix. Still, his aggression at the rim is a huge positive and overall he looks much more comfortable in the offense. The next transition has to be letting Dragic shoulder some of the late game offensive sets and hoping his three point shot meets the law-of-averages fairy.
- Gerald Green is a volcano of shot making. It's been so long since Miami's had an ignitable scorer like him off the bench. His defense, something many scouts and coaches have red-flagged in the past, was solid on the perimeter tonight. All you can ask is that he competes and he's playing the best defense of his career, which mitigated some of his earlier offensive struggles.