The Miami Heat fell short at the end, despite overcoming a 17-point deficit to take a lead against the Toronto Raptors in the fourth quarter of their matchup on Monday afternoon.
The Raptors were keen on avoiding a regular-season sweep at the hands of Miami after losing in both previous encounters with their Eastern Conference counterparts prior to the NBA season getting suspended.
Erik Spoelstra left Jae Crowder in the starting lineup after playing him as a starter in place of Meyers Leonard against the Denver Nuggets on Saturday.
Miami played a tepid first quarter and didn’t shoot the ball that well, neither did they take care of it as they would have liked to, and ended the period down six. A 7-0 run early in the second quarter put them back level and, while the offense wasn’t as great, the defense managed to keep Kyle Lowry without a field goal through to midway of the quarter, with Marc Gasol going scoreless the entire first half. Lowry ended the half on 1-4 shooting.
Lowry would get an early rest after picking up a third foul in 15 minutes but Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet ensured the Raptors went into halftime with a lead (48-44), scoring 15 and 13 points respectively.
Toronto opened up a 17-point lead over the Heat with just over seven minutes to go in the third quarter. The Heat could not seem to find an answer for VanVleet, who ended the quarter with 31 points, but they managed to cut the lead down to just five heading into the fourth.
Back-to-back threes from Crowder and Goran Dragic gave Miami the lead with nearly two minutes gone in the fourt period as their bench carried them through a 36-16 explosion. Toronto, though, went ahead again with six minutes to go.
Dragic missed an opportunity to tie the game following a potential three-point play with 40 seconds left on the clock. The Serbian forced through with a layup but could not convert from the line. Lowry presented Miami with another opportunity after missing a layup on the other end, however, they failed to capitalize and instead turned the ball over.
Gasol sank one of his two free throws to put the Raptors up a deuce, with the Heat fouling quickly on the inbound. There was plenty of time for Miami to tie or take the lead given the 15 seconds on the clock but they could only manage another turnover coming out of their final timeout. Siakam, who had only scored five second-half points up to that point, made both free throws after another Heat foul. OG Anunoby sealed the deal at the line by hitting another pair for a 107-103 win.
VanVleet finished the game with 36 points, matching his season-high, with Lowry only registering 14. Dragic led the Heat in scoring with 25 points off the bench, also chipping in five rebounds and six assists.
The Miami Heat will face top Eastern Conference contenders in the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks this week, with the first of those games set for Tuesday evening and the second on Thursday afternoon.