The Raptors played the Heat tough in the first half, slipped a little in the third, but gave the Heat more than they probably expected well into the fourth quarter at ACC in Chris Bosh's return.
With the Heat ahead 97-90 with 1:50 to go, Andrea Bargnani drilled a huge triple to cut it to a four-point game before LeBron James and DeMar DeRozan traded layups. But James followed his own miss with a tip-in with just under a minute to play, the Raptors missed a pair of opportunities the other way and Bosh put it out of reach at the line to end it.
A strong return for Bosh, but really, it was a little too much LeBron James down the stretch that did Toronto in. He didn't have a fantastic shooting night from the floor, but found other ways to contribute with 13 rebounds and eight assists.
In the final frame, James got to the line eight times -- making six free throws on his way to 10 of his 23 total points in the quarter. The final 1:16 saw him take over with a layup, a follow of his own miss then one more crucial rebound with 46 seconds to play.
Andrea Bargnani exploded offensively and with DeMar DeRozan's 24 points serving as the Raptors' only other major scoring source, he almost had to. Bargnani outscored every teammate not named DeRozan combined with 38 points, the second-highest total of his career.
Bargnani started his night with seven points during an opening 10-4 run that got the Raptors off to a much-needed solid start and tore it up in the fourth with 17 of his team's 23 points. He found his touch from long range with five-of-six 3-pointers made and tacked on more three-point plays after getting fouled on a couple of other made shots.
"I thought our energy was good. I thought we battled. We made 85 per cent of our free throws and 42 per cent of our three-point shots. We lose the battle on the boards by eight but there’s going to be a lot of missed shots when we shoot the way we did at 41 per cent. I thought the energy was good and I thought our guys really competed and that’s the staple that we want to continue to have."
- Jay Triano, on Wednesday's defeat
Wed., Feb. 23 @ Bobcats
7PM, Sportsnet One, FAN590
And so ends the unofficial first half of the season. The Raptors now get the opportunity to regroup, recharge and refocus on the Bobcats in their first game out of the break a week from tonight. This marks the third matchup of the season between the two teams, with the Bobcats taking the first two.
|20,156||Announced attendance on Wed., the third-highest in ACC history|
|2-18||Raptors record this season when they shoot under 44% from the floor|
|37-20||Free throws attempted favouring the Heat|
|3||Consecutive double-digit rebounding games for Ed Davis|
|15:1||Assist to turnover ratio for Jose Calderon over his last four games (46:3)|
|"It was great. It reminded me of a couple of years ago in the playoffs, it was great. I think the fans were outstanding tonight and they helped us when we were down."|
- Jose Calderon on the atmosphere at ACC
|" It is just like with me when Vince (Carter) left. I had to step my game up. I was put into different situations and we had rough patches and we were losing but that made me a better player."|
- Chris Bosh on the development of Bargnani/DeRozan
|"The crowd today was unbelievable, it was great. It was great to play in front of our crowd. I think we are very lucky to play in Toronto, not every arena is like that."|
- Andrea Bargnani, on the crowd support