LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Heat proved too much for a resilient Raptors squad in Miami, but the Raptors did plenty of shooting themselves in the foot too.

Here are some thoughts on yet another heartbreaking loss…

Heat 123, Raptors 116 (OT)

- The first three quarters went to script, as I predicted earlier in the game thread. The Raptors got off to a good start and held a lead through the first half before the Heat made a big third quarter run to take the lead (after going up 10-8 in the first few minutes, Miami didn’t retake the lead until the final few minutes of the third quarter when they went up 75-73). Where things veered off course was the fact that the Raps actually then fought back to force overtime and take some late leads of their own, where as I expected they would fold up under the enormous talent gap once the Heat made their run.

So credit the Raptors for an incredible effort and an encouraging fight back against the defending champs and the best player in the world, but as mentioned above, Toronto also shot themselves in the foot in a game that actually became winnable late.

- The Raptors were able to build an early lead, which grew as large as 15 points in the second quarter, thanks to good ball movement and a lack of turnovers on offence while also buckling down on defence well before the Heat did in this game. As an example of those first two points about the early offence, the Raps recorded eight assists on 11 made field goals in the first quarter and didn’t commit a turnover for the first 22 minutes of the game (Toronto finished with 26 assists on 44 made field goals and only committed eight turnovers). Being the first team in over nine years to convert two four-point plays (Lowry and Anderson) in the same half helped, too.

- DeMar DeRozan showed good patience early and also showed off his improved court vision with seven assists on the night, including four of the team’s first six assists of the game, but DeRozan continues to struggle with his own offence and left us all wanting more down the stretch. DeMar attacked the basket as he should have late, but on the final Raptors’ play of regulation, he shied away from contact after a beautiful spin move in the lane instead of going into the contact, and his shot came up short without the benefit of free throws. In addition, DeRozan missed a couple of big free throws late and wasn’t enough of a presence on the glass. It wasn’t a horrible game from the 23-year-old by any stretch, but at the same time, as I’ve said a lot lately, it wasn’t good enough either.

- Alan Anderson, Dwane Casey and Kyle Lowry all made some bad decisions down the stretch that cost the Raptors in the end. Lowry was a little too sloppy with the ball in his hands late in the game and Anderson shot the Raptors out of the game in overtime as quickly as he shot them back into it in regulation, but my biggest issue on the night was with Casey, whose decision to ride Aaron Gray and John Lucas III in crunch time left me flabbergasted.

As Jack Armstrong figured out pretty early into Gray’s appearance in this game, the big man was useful during the brief stretch of time that the Heat clogged the middle with Joel Anthony, but other than that, Gray shouldn’t have touched the floor tonight. Instead, Casey left Gray in the game after Anthony exited, and even went back to him in the fourth quarter and then in overtime when Amir Johnson fouled out. Meanwhile, Ed Davis, who would have been fine manning the middle against a small Miami lineup, warmed the bench and didn’t replace Gray until the final 1:57 of OT.

- If there was one thing that might have convinced Casey to ride with Gray for seven minutes, it might have been the fact that the Raptors got dominated on the boards by a bad rebounding Heat team, 53-28. Even so, Gray’s rebounding doesn’t change the fact that the Raptors are basically playing four on five on the offensive end when he’s in the game late in a close contest.

- As for Lucas, he was called upon to run the two point guard unit with Lowry for a portion of the fourth quarter while Calderon rode the bench. Sure, the Heat may have won this game anyway given the discrepancy in talent, experience, etc., but the whole “we just lost to a much better team” argument would have been a lot easier to take if it wasn’t for these confusing and frustrating decisions from Casey down the stretch.

- LeBron James, man…LeBron James. At the end of the fourth quarter, after James had missed the potential game-winner at the buzzer and had committed a couple of bad turnovers late, I was thinking about how he wasn’t having as great of a game as we’re used to. Then I checked the boxscore, and promtly realized that he was closing in on his second triple-double of the season. LeBron finished with 31 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists while shooting over 50 per cent from the floor. Basically, he’s at the point where performances like this – a career game for the average player – are considered the norm. He’s simply on another planet right now, and as much as I’d prefer he has an off-night against the Raptors, it’s still fun to watch one of the most dominating players in NBA history do his thing.

LeBron and Wade, who scored a game-high 35 of his own, combined for 66 of the Heat’s 123 points in this one. And they did it on 25-of-42 shooting.

- Terrence Ross didn’t shoot the ball particularly well tonight (7-of-16), but he hit some big shots at key moments, played solid defence and added another two highlight reel dunks to his growing compilation. To be honest, I would have rather had him on the floor than DeRozan in overtime.

- If you feel like the Raptors have already lost their share of overtime games this season, there’s this:

Toronto’s last three losses have all come in overtime, by a combined 16 points, with the Raps holding leads of at least 15 points in their last two losses and blowing double-digit leads in four of their last five losses. I know I’ve asked the question countless times already this season, but seriously, how many more heartbreakers will we have to sit through in 2012-13?

Raptors Player Of the Game: Amir Johnson – 15 Pts, 6/9 FG, 3/3 FT, 6 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk, 2 TO in 32:00

Heat Player Of the Game: LeBron James – 31 Pts, 12/23 FG, 1/5 3PT, 6/7 FT, 10 Reb, 11 Ast, 3 TO in 44:50

Comments (28)

  1. I’m not sure how much more of the Alan Anderson experience I can handle. I’m not going to be one of those fans who bases a significant portion of his opinion on the result of a particular game and there’s no doubt he hit some big shots during some of the many runs the Heat made during the second half but he’s got to be a bit smarter when it comes to shot selection.

    The fact that a guy who the Raptors signed to a 10-day contract last season now plays crunch time minutes regularly while having the green light to take any shot he wants is one of the strangest developments in Raptors history.

    Then again, this is another one of those things that is probably a Casey problem than an Anderson problem. Anderson is what he is, not his fault that Casey thinks he is a borderline starter.

    • I got to say, you are the most spot on raptors commmentator i have ever read on any blog. I wish there was more people like you and less of these fickle raptors fans who are fooled by game to game performances and fail to look at the big picture. Good on you for keeping it real man. Anyways, if I WAS casey I would bench Anderson next game just to let him know that performances like tonight are unacceptable and he has to know and ACCEPT his role which is sure as hell not the star. Of course, Casey has some irrational love for anderson which I cannot quite figure out. If lowry got shit for being selfish, this guy is way worse and should either not see the floor or get his minutes significantly decreased. Playing guys like this so many minutes is just 1 reason why the raptors have been awful for so many years. On a good team, alan anderon is an 11th or 12th man. On the raptors, he is option #1. Just pathetic.

      • Could you be any more dramatic? PBI is not spot on, he whines after every game, anyone can do that.

        • Whines?

          That was not whining, it was spot on. AA took the most shots (18) of anyone on the team yesterday.

          That’s not irregular, either – 36 minutes, he takes 15.8 shots, and has a usg% of over 25%. The only person with higher usg and per 36 shot attempts on the team is andrea.

          This makes me a little ill. With Bargs out, the stats say AA is our primary option when he’s on the floor, and one of our primary weapons period. How the f*ck is that even possible?

          • “This makes me a little ill. With Bargs out, the stats say AA is our primary option when he’s on the floor, and one of our primary weapons period. How the f*ck is that even possible?”

            Maybe it’s a case of people feeding the hot hand, then having that perception stick in their mind.

          • I like Anderson and what he brings to the table. There was no overtime without his clutch shooting last night. I was pissed at some of the shots he took in OT, but you guys make it seem like it’s Casey’s fault that Anderson is earning minutes, or it’s Anderson’s fault that this team lacks depth and character and clutch scorers. Someone’s gotta take the shot. He was hot, they fed him the ball, he missed, get over it.

  2. Raptors still need a closer to finish these games. I know people will say we have Kyle Lowry, but he looked suspect when it counted. Demar should not be the one either. I’d rather see the ball in Calderon’s hands in a pick and roll type situation

    The Raptor bigs effort on the glass was lacking tonight, especially from Davis (which is why he was probably riding the pine late in the game). Not to say that Gray was much of an improvement. When Chris Bosh has double digit rebounds against you…it’s a problem.

    Did anyone notice the body language at the end of regulation and OT??

    Raptors should have won in regulation, but didn’t deserve to. The next 3 games are winnable games.

  3. So I tune into overtime, and I see Aron Gray on the floor. So I then check the box score to see what happen to Amir johnson or Ed Davis. Amir is fouled out. And ED , WTF only 24 minutes. Whats Up with Dwane casey. I dont know what to say!

  4. The team played as hard as they could but just got beat on talent. Nothing you could do. I have no idea what that fucking clown BC saw in derozan to give him that extenstion. Just completely moronic. I know derozan had 7 assists today but thats an aberration in my opinion until he shows he can do it more often. I know everyone is ed davis crazy, but lets just all chill. I want to see what davis does playing 32-34 mins/nite consistently before im ready to annoint him as the future PF. Im very pessimistic that BC has built a strong young core besides val. To me, ross and davis are role players based on talent/skill until they prove otherwise.

    • What did BC see in Derozan? He saw one of the better SG’s in the league who’s only 23 years old, who works hard, and is improving most areas of his game every year.

    • Ross and Davis are talented young players that any team would love to have.

  5. Dwane Casey is killing me right now..just killing me! For f*cks sakes Dwane let Ross play the OT frame! Oh no instead let’s let Alan ‘gotsta get mine’ Anderson brick us out of the game. Ross is a core wing going forward no? Then let the f**king guy play, this team is like 12 games under .500 let the rook play basketball!

    Casey smarten up man.

  6. Ross gets 14 on 16 shots. That would indicate his shot selection wasn’t the best and apparently like a runaway train you can’t stop him in-game.

    Reffing brutal as usual.

    Leaving Calderon on the bench was a stroke of genius. I’m sure if he had left Lowry to close out they could have avoided over time.

    On the other hand a 15-27 team taking the Heat to OT is pretty impressive and certainly gives some indication of the talent and the progress this team has made. So a “moral” victory and something to build on. This team believes that if it keeps knocking on the door good things will happen. I agree.

    • @Hope Caper
      “Leaving Calderon on the bench was a stroke of genius. I’m sure if he had left Lowry to close out they could have avoided over time.”

      You say that like you missed the 15 point lead JC and the starters blew (again) that Lowry’s second unit built. If Calderon doesn’t go to the bench the Raps wouldn’t have even been in OT….It is becoming Calderon and the starters mantra – close game at the beginning, then the second unit and Lowry come in, lead builds – only to have the Calderon lead starters blow it!
      That’s what I am tired of seeing….The starting Unit blew a 15 point half time lead AGAIN!

      • Oh yea the raptors definitely should have rode Lowry “the MVP” he would have guaranteed us the victory and out -Lebroned Lebron James.

        Shit we wouldn’t have lost a game yet this season with the power duo of Lowry and John Lucas the 3rd.

        Lets fire Casey and make YoungJames Coach!

        • Nope, don’t want it – have no interest in being the coach….. I never said Lowry is better or should be the MVP – you did….just pointin’ out the fact, man!

  7. Spot on with the Lucas and Gray comment. Once again, Casey seems to juggle lineups based mostly on offense, when Toronto’s offense is clearly years ahead of its terrible defense.

    I can handle Ross’s inconsistent shooting and occasional brain farts because he really works at defense. Loved him boxing out Bosh at one point.

    Anderson is turning into James Johnson II — guy who could be a useful piece, but thinks he’s much more than he is, ruining his role.

  8. Oh, and watching Chalmers turn into vintage Ray Allen whenever Calderon re-entered the game was brutal. When Calderon tries to play defense and gets burned, that’s annoying but it’ll happen. When he sags toward the key, leaving three-point shooters open, that’s when I can’t stand him.

  9. Mike James missed a lot of 3′s in overtime last night. We should trade him.

  10. @youngjames

    “It is becoming Calderon and the starters mantra – close game at the beginning, then the second unit and Lowry come in, lead builds”

    Correct me if i am wrong but the starters had a lead of 7 points or so before the second unit came in and help build it to almost 15 before a miami run brought it back down to 7 by half so the lead they had at halftime was basically what the starters created. They still should of played more of the second unit though it just seemed like they brought the energy. I do agree that the lead was blown but lowry was in there with calderon as well anderson so it technically wasn’t the starters since casey had to switch up rotation because nobody could make a basket.

    But that’s not the point. Fans tend to point fingers at individual players. Even though i cant blame the hate for anderson right now since i love the guy (especially in the beginning of OT) then hated him a minute later lol I personally cant believe some you guys are knocking on Calderon @Hope Caper “Leaving Calderon on the bench was a stroke of genius. I’m sure if he had left Lowry to close out they could have avoided over time.” I don’t understand how you say that when he goes 5/6 from behind the arc made a huge three down the stretch.

    Its a team game and everybody is going to make mistakes but the great teams capitalize on the opponents mistakes. The raps missed free throws down the stretch as well left lebron open for a tying three not to mention the missed layup that demar had at the end which had contact but got no call. Casey playing gray for more then he should as well not letting the second unit play together more. The list goes on.

    We do need someone that can close games i still think lowry can do it if not i hope someone steps up. At least the game was entertaining and close. The raps fan in me thought it was going to be close game. The basketball fan in me thought they were going to get destroyed.

    Anyone else annoyed with how many free throws wade got by faking the shot and just jumping into the player and getting the whistle even when half of them fields was jumping straight up. They have to change the rule or something.

    • Oh yes! That is what I am talking about for bad Ref calls. There were a couple of those Wade fakes where the replay clearly showed Fields didn’t touch him or even come close. Sick and tired of those Wade and LeBron “I’ve been shot” faces after every single play.

      At least the old ref seemed to be getting everything right. The young one, well, … lets just say NOT.

    • sure dude – if you say so, I trust it. I thought it was 15…yesterday I was at my in-laws for a b-day dinner, trying to follow the game on a computer to the dislike of the other’s. It wasn’t till then end of the game I got to pay full attention.

  11. I don’t see anyone complaining about the refs in the comments. Remember when Jose was called for stepping out of bounds with the ball? Was I the only person who saw Bosh standing with the ball for at least half a second with his foot well out of bounds right before that? I was yelling at the ref that he called the wrong player out of bounds – to no avail. Call that one possession correctly and the game doesn’t go to overtime.

    I wouldn’t expect to hang the loss on a single call though. This game started great. I thought the Raps had a chance because the refs were being fair for a while. By fair, I mean they weren’t calling anything (more or less) on either team. At least, that is, until the Raptors took a 4 point lead. Then I could practically hear Stern yelling in the ref’s ear that this Canadian team can’t be allowed to embarrass the supposed best team in the league on National TV! And sure enough, they were immediately hit with a run of ticky tack BS calls that put Miami well on their way to being in the bonus well before Toronto.

    Then we got Jose comin’ back in and giving up the lead that Lowry built. Getting really tired of this.

    Casey, yes, he is killing me this season. Where were these horrible rotations when we were supposed to be trying to tank last season? Seriously! Leaving Aaron Gray in for that long? Going back to the 2 PG crapola – and not even with Jose, but with John Lucas? Come on man! Maybe Stern was whispering in Casey’s or BC’s ear as well.

    Naw, take the refs and their half dozen horrible calls away, and this game is easily won by the Raptors in regulation.

    That said, who the F cares about wins or losses any more this season? We aren’t making the playoffs, and we aren’t getting a top three pick (unless Stern keeps the lottery in a locked closet and decided to give one to TO for handing Miami Bosh on a platter), so what does it really matter this season any more?

    I think I have to stop watching the games with about 3 minutes to go. Catch the very entertaining first 45 minutes of every game, and skip the part where the game is being taken away or handed to the opposition over and over and over this season.

    /end rant

  12. Dwayne Casey is the right coach for this team. Sure he makes mistakes, he’s only human. Look at what he has to work with. I mean, the guy has a fucking ring. I would like to see any of you guys try and coach this team, you make it sound like it’s such an easy job.

    • Blasphemy! What is that you’ve got there, perspective? Perspective has no place here. Please over analyze the last game and decide who should be fired and who should be traded. Those are the parameters of this discussion.

      Now, where were we – ah yes, fire the coach!

      • Apparently perspective does have a place here. Don’t tell me what the parameters of this discussion are. You can continue being the geek/dick that you are, just leave me out of it.

        • Haha, I always thought you two were the same guy based on the remotely similar commenter nicknames and the reverse trolling/baiting that you both love to do.

          Speaking of perspective, the Raptors have the 7th worst record in the league, just like they did last year (with a significantly better roster) and Casey continues to cater to vets more than he should on this “developing” team, just like he did last year. No one said he should be fired but bringing up a couple of glaring weaknesses that can easily be corrected isn’t some huge indictment against the guy especially in a season when the team has blown so many games because of it.

          As annoying as I imagine my perceived negativity is for some commenters, I find people like you guys that set the bar so low that the Raptors showing up to the arena is an achievement that should be celebrated to be equally as annoying. Zero expectations and zero accountability is apparently the substitute for perspective.

          • I’m not sure what bar you’re reffering that I am supposedly setting so low. This team’s goal was to make the playoffs, and as a fan, that was my expectations coming into this season as well. You have to look at the new players this team added, followed by a brutal schedule to start the year, the injuries, the youth factor, and the overall lack of talent on this team. I agree Casey’s made some mistakes, but I think you’re wrong to think that their record would be any better if he changed some of coaching decisions. Now the young players they have are all earning their minutes. Ross had to earn his playing time, just like Anderson and Jose and Lowry and so on. I want this team to make the playoffs, so does Casey, so do the players. If we should be more in a developing mode like you say, then how am I the one setting the bar too low? Coaching is a balancing act, and don’t forget pressure from the people who sign his paycheque. this is a business at the end of the day.

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