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Heat blow fourth-quarter lead, fall to Raptors 98-90

Miami only scored 14 points in the fourth period.

Toronto Raptors v Miami Heat

The Miami Heat seemed to be in good shape when Duncan Robinson hit a deep 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter to give them an eight-point lead.

The Heat used a 15-2 third-quarter run to take control of the game, thanks to aggression from Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler. But after Robinson’s 3, Tyler Herro committed turnovers. The Heat lead dwindled.

Erik Spoelstra called a timeout to successfully challenge a call when Miami was clinging to an 81-80 lead with 7:21 left. He didn’t put Butler back in then. The Heat’s best player didn’t return until the 3:38 mark of the fourth quarter.

And even after coming back into the game, the Heat didn’t run offense through Butler. Both before and after Butler checked in, too much of Miami’s fourth-quarter offense consisted of isolation play that didn’t put points on the board. Herro shot just 2-for-9 from 3 Monday night. Adebayo shot just 4-of-14 from the field. They both were supposed to maintain Miami’s lead early in the fourth quarter. They didn’t do that.

Here we are — after a four-game homestand to open the NBA season, Miami is 1-3. It’s disappointing, especially considering this was such a winnable game.

The Heat went into this game without Caleb Martin and Nikola Jovic, who were both suspended. Martin instigated an altercation with Christian Koloko in the third quarter of Miami’s win over Toronto Saturday night, and Jovic left the bench area. Miami went small and started Max Strus in Martin’s place, but Strus went 0-for-8 from downtown.

The Heat went even smaller during crunch time, going with Kyle Lowry, Gabe Vincent and Herro with Butler and Adebayo. And the Raptors found the switches they wanted. With 50 seconds left, Pascal Siakam saw Vincent on him and early rose up for an 11-foot jumper that put the Raptors up 93-88.

This season has gotten off to a bad start for Dewayne Dedmon. When he checked into the game, Toronto exploited his lack of switch-ability and whipped the ball around to find open shooters. At one point, he was a -16 in five minutes.

Omer Yurtseven is injured, so the Heat can’t go with him instead of Dedmon. During the playoffs last year, Spoelstra sometimes had P.J. Tucker play as the backup five. Haywood Highsmith doesn’t look ready for that now.

Butler led Miami with 26 points on 8-of-15 shooting from the field — including 2-for-2 from 3 — and 8-of-9 from the foul line. He’s played well to start the season, but he needs more help. And the Heat need to make a trade to get bigger. Having Vincent, Lowry and Herro all on the floor together against a team with as much length as Toronto isn't going to cut it.

The Heat will fly out for their first West Coast road trip with a Wednesday night game at the Portland Trail Blazers.