(Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann)
The Miami HEAT defeated the Toronto Raptors 102-97 Sunday evening at AmericanAirlines Arena. The win is the HEAT's 14th straight over the Raptors. The HEAT return to action on Tuesday.
Impact Performance of the Night: LeBron James was very efficient against the Raptors, scoring 30 points on 12-of-18 shooting. He also added five assists and four rebounds. James did most of his work in the paint, making nine of his 11 attempts. Late in the game James hit three jumpers to keep the HEAT out in front of the Raptors. Tonight was James’ fifth game this season with 30 points or more while shooting 66 percent or better from the floor. No other player has had more than two such games this season.
The Deciding Run: The HEAT trailed the Raptors 84-79 entering the fourth quarter. Toronto had led by as many as nine in the third frame before Miami started to chip away at the lead. Roger Mason, Jr. got the HEAT run going with a three-pointer assisted by Ray Allen. Chris Andersen got an alley oop a possession later and the HEAT were on their way. LeBron James hit a jumper at the 4:47 mark to give the HEAT a 92-86 lead, capping a 13-2 run to begin the fourth quarter. Toronto was able to keep things close after that, but they couldn’t overtake Miami.
Play of the Game: Toronto had possession down just one with 39 seconds left in the game. Amir Johnson had a strong game and the Raptors went to him late. Chris Bosh challenged the Johnson hook shot, altering Johnson’s release just enough. He missed off the iron and Dwyane Wade grabbed the defensive rebound. The HEAT hit free throws to close it out from there.
Efficiency Rating: Offensive Efficiency: 113.5; Defensive Efficiency: 105.2
Trend to Watch: We saw the Chris Bosh-Chris Andersen pairing pop up in early December and it’s made a few appearances since. Tonight they played 11 minutes together, outscoring the Raptors 20-12. The lineup helped take control of the game by playing suffocating defense. The Raptors had been getting to the rim a lot before the two took the court together. The lineup gives the HEAT a different look from what we see for most games and it’s difficult for opponents to adjust to it. Back in December we mentioned that this pairing might be something we saw more of as the year went on as long as they had success together. Tonight was another strong performance and gives more assurance that should the HEAT need to go big, they can.
The Takeaway: Few teams have been playing as well as the Toronto Raptors since early April. After the Rudy Gay trade they were 10-3, having knocked off a pair of championship contenders in the Thunder and Pacers. Getting this win on the second night of a back-to-back is impressive. The HEAT had a quick turnaround, but found a way to battle back from a hot-shooting night from Toronto. In the fourth quarter the defense locked the Raptors down, holding them to just one field goal first 7:29 of the period. The HEAT missed some shots at the rim that would normally go down, but that’s where playing the night before comes into play. The HEAT get every team’s best shot and the Raptors delivered theirs tonight. In the end, the HEAT were just too strong in the fourth quarter for the Raptors.
Notes: Michael Beasley scored 17 points and grabbed four rebounds in 20 minutes. Dwyane Wade finished with 14 points and nine rebounds. Greg Oden and Shane Battier were inactive.