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Heat win defensive slog against Raptors, 84-76

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Toronto shot 6-for-42 on 3-point attempts.

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Miami Heat Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat entered the fourth quarter against an injury-depleted Toronto Raptors team nursing a three-point lead. Tyler Herro converted on Miami’s first possession, a step-back jumper.

About two minutes later, the 19-year-old made a deep 3-pointer. And on Miami’s next possession, he made another 3.

On a night like tonight, when both teams shot poorly, that was enough. The Heat held on to win 84-76 against the defending champions and move two-and-a-half games ahead of the fourth-place Raptors. This deep into the season, the Heat avoided losing two straight games.

Without Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol and Norman Powell, the Raptors shot a horrid 6-for-42 from beyond the arc. Miami first went into the 2-3 zone with four minutes left in the first quarter and used it virtually the rest of the game. Although Toronto found some easy baskets for Serge Ibaka in the middle of zone, the zone worked.

Miami was fortunate that Toronto had an off shooting night because they weren’t much better. Jimmy Butler shot just 2-for-10 from the field and even missed three free throws. The Raptors opened with the point guard Kyle Lowry guarding Butler, but Butler didn’t take advantage.

Kendrick Nunn and Derrick Jones Jr. shot a combined 3-for-18 from 3-point range. The Raptors seemingly left Jones wide-open from 3, and he didn’t make Toronto pay. However, one of Jones’ two made 3s came with 4:33 left to go and put Miami up 78-69. On Miami’s ensuing possession, Bam Adebayo tipped in a 3-point miss from Nunn.

Adebayo actually scored a team-high 15 points for Miami, going 7-of-8 from the field. The third-year player also grabbed 14 rebounds and had one of his most athletic plays — taking the ball like a guard before a fake pass and finish. On the flip side, Adebayo committed four turnovers.

Goran Dragic scored all 13 of his points in the first half. He made three 3-pointers and had a nice lob to Chris Silva in the second quarter.

Speaking of Silva, the rookie got five minutes of action and scored twice. Kelly Olynyk continues to be on the edge of the rotation, this time playing just three minutes and none after halftime.

The Heat will visit the Orlando Magic Friday, Jan. 3 at 7 p.m. to complete a back-to-back set.