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Shorthanded Heat surge past Raptors in Kyle Lowry’s return, 114-109

Lowry posted 16 points, six rebounds and 10 assists in his return to the North!

Miami Heat v Toronto Raptors Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images

A second-half 3-point barrage from Victor Oladipo and Max Strus propelled the Erik Spoelstra-less Miami Heat to a 111-103 victory over the Toronto Raptors in Kyle Lowry’s return to Toronto Sunday.

Oladipo and Strus canned 13 of Miami’s 18 total triples and accounted for 10 of its 12 second-half 3-point makes. Strus tallied a team-high 23 points with seven 3-pointers (on nine attempts). Oladipo set a Heat-career high in points (23) and 3-pointers (6), in addition to four assists and two steals.

Trailing by 10 at halftime, Miami outscored Toronto by 11 in the third quarter (34-23) and 15 in the game’s final 24 minutes (69-54). Miami shot 51.9 percent from the floor and 47.4 percent from 3-point range, knocking down over 60 percent of its shots and 3-point attempts in the second half.

Tyler Herro nearly had a triple-double (or a quadruple double, if you feel like including turnovers for some reason), adding 18 points on 8-of-16 shooting with nine rebounds and eight dimes. In his return, Lowry posted a double double — 16 points (on 4-of-8 shooting) and 10 dimes — while hauling in six rebounds; Bam Adebayo also finished with 16 points plus nine rebounds, shooting 6-of-12 in the winning effort.

Toronto shot 41.7 percent from the floor and 30.8 percent from 3-point range.

Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet recorded a game-high 29 points apiece; VanVleet added seven assists while Siakam posted nine rebounds, five assists and a pair of steals. Gary Trent Jr. and Scottie Barnes also had 19 points apiece; Barnes also had seven rebounds, two assists and two steals while Trent added two boards with a team-most three steals.

In addition to Spoelstra’s absence, a day removed from having every player available for the first time this season, the Heat were without Jimmy Butler (toe), Gabe Vincent (toe), Dewayne Dedmon (ankle), Javonte Smart (G-League) and PJ Tucker (knee) Sunday.

Toronto missed OG Anunoby (quadriceps), Isaac Bonga (toe) and Yuta Watanabe (hamstring).

Spearheaded by Oladipo and Herro, the Heat bench outscored Toronto’s 45-13, including 25-6 in the second half. The Raptors, however, tallied six more rebounds (54-48), three fewer turnovers (17 for Heat, 14 for Toronto) and three more points off turnovers (23-20).

VanVleet notched 16 of the Raptors’ first 23 points, outscoring Miami 16-12 by himself over the first 6:21. VanVleet’s floater widened the lead to 12 — 45-33 — with 6:25 left before halftime.

A mini 10-2 Heat run cut it to four with 4:03 remaining in the opening half, but the Raptors countered with an 8-2 run to go ahead 10 entering the break.

Toronto shot 43.2 percent from the floor and 31.8 percent from beyond the arc. Miami shot 42.5 percent with a 30.0 3-point percentage. Three Toronto players — VanVleet (21), Siakam (10) and Barnes (10) had double figures — while Miami had just one (Herro - 11).

Caleb Martin’s reverse layup followed by Strus’ 3-pointer sliced the deficit to 64-62 with 5:45 to go in the third. Another Strus 3-pointer gave Miami the 69-68 lead — its first lead since the 10:29 mark to start the contest.

Trent’s triple gave the Raptors the 91-87 lead with 7:04 left, prompting a Heat timeout. But six of the following seven Heat baskets came from downtown, giving Miami the 107-100 lead with 2:57 remaining. Toronto cut it to 112-107 with 27.2 seconds to go, but one free throw apiece from Herro and Oladipo was more than enough for Miami to secure its 51st victory of the season.

Where does Miami sit in standings now?

With three games remaining, the Heat — on a four-game win streak — are two games ahead of the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks in the loss column for the one-seed.

Here’s how the top-6 in the East rest in the standings currently:

Eastern Conference standings (thru 4/3):

Team W-L GB
Team W-L GB
Miami Heat 51-28 ----
Boston Celtics 49-30 2
Milwaukee Bucks 48-30 2.5
Philadelphia 76ers 48-30 2.5
Chicago Bulls 45-33 5.5
Toronto Raptors 45-33 5.5

Miami concludes the regular season with the Charlotte Hornets (4/5), Atlanta Hawks (4/8) — both of whom currently reside as play-in teams — and the lottery-bound Orlando Magic on April 10, the last day of the regular season.

Boston ends the regular season on a three-game road trip at Chicago, Milwaukee and Memphis, who clinched the two-seed in the West earlier this week; Milwaukee ends with Chicago, Boston, Detroit and Cleveland; the Sixers end with Indiana twice, Toronto and Detroit.