How many of you were expecting a slightly competitive fourth quarter? After that first half, I can tell you that my hand would not have been raised. While the Raptors lost to the Heat 120-103, and trailed by as many as 28 in the first half –seriously– and gave up six three-pointers and 32 points to Mike Miller, they did come away with something. They came away with fight.
I know, I know, we’re all sick of moral victories and hearing that the wins and losses don’t matter, but this time, it’s true. Playing against a Heat team without Dwayne Wade (migraine) and Chris Bosh (sprained ankle), the Raptors were also shorthanded, with only nine available players. Without Joey Dorsey (knee), Linas Kleiza (knee), Leandro Barbosa (hamstring), Sonny Weems (back) and Reggie Evans (foot), depleted doesn’t even begin to describe this Raptors team and after a defence-less first half, they found themselves trailing the Heat by 26.
At this point I thought the team was going to fold and we were in for another 40-point loss like the night before in Orlando. After all, back-to-back, fifth game of a five-game trip, shortened roster due to injury and tired legs, it was the perfect storm. Except, it wasn’t and the Raptors dug deep and hustled hard and charged back in the fourth to cut that 28-point deficit down to seven. Of course, when it mattered most, LeBron James showed why he is able to get away with calling himself the King: Scoring eight points in 81 seconds to put the Heat back up by 14.
Not surprising that the Heat won, despite two of their big three out of the game. The biggest surprise of the night was the Raptors digging in and giving the Heat a bit of a competitive second half rather than rolling over. DeMar DeRozan finished with 30 points, Jose Calderon pieced together a 14-point, 13-assist double-double and Andrea Bargnani scored 28. Bargnani struggled mightily down the stretch, however, and I kinda wish the team had gone elsewhere on the offensive end.
For the Heat, Bron finished with 38 points, 11 assists and six assists. He was pretty fantastic in the absence of Bosh and Wade. He was who he’s supposed to be and who his team needed him to be. Having a guy to go to when you need to lock up the win. Nice, isn’t it?
Raptors Player of the Game: Jose Calderon — 14 pts, 4-8 fgs, 2-3 pt fgs, 4-4 3fts, 13 asts, 2 stls,
Heat Player of the Game: LeBron James — 38 pts, 14-29 fgs, 1-3 3pt fgs, 9-14 fts, 11 rebs, 6 asts, 2 stls, 1 blk