Maybe it was the 2 p.m., tip-off. Or maybe it was the fact they were playing on Super Bowl Sunday. There was something that caused the Miami Heat to show so much disinterest in the first half against the Toronto Raptors. It wasn't until late in the fourth quarter when the Heat pulled it together in their 100-85 victory against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. The win enabled them to finish their four-game road trip at 2-2. "The second quarter, obviously, that was not the way we wanted to hold down the fort on that end," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "You have to give them (the Raptors) credit as well. They were moving the ball, moving us around and getting to some easy opportunities. The second half, we really clamped down." LeBron James led all scorers with 30 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Center Chris Bosh finished with 28 points while guard Dwyane Wade added 23 points, five rebounds and five assists. "It's always great when the three of us are aggressive," Wade said."It started from the beginning of the game. We had to be aggressive. This team right here (the Raptors), especially at home at 2 o'clock, they get after guys." After yet another huge game from the Big Three, Spoelstra earned a spot beside them for NBA All-Star Weekend.The victory also clinched his spot as coach of the Eastern Conference team in the game Feb. 17 in Houston. He is the second coach in Heat history to do so, joining Stan Van Gundy (2005). "This has been a special year, going back to last year and then continuing it this year," Spoelstra said. "First and foremost, we're happy that we have the No. 1 spot in the east, in a very competitive Eastern Conference." But the Heat may have received the best advice Sunday from longtime assistant coach Ron Rothstein. During the hafltime television interview, he offered these words: "play harder." And that's what the Heat did. Miami trailed 50-44 at halftime, largely because of its poor defensive play and rebounding. The Heat were down despite holding the Raptors to 44 percent shooting. It was Raptors' seven offensive rebounds and Rudy Gay, who scored 20 of his 29 points in the first half, keeping them ahead. "We didn't get enough stops in the first half," James said. "We shot 50 percent from the floor and were down six at halftime. We knew in order to win this game we had to defend and get multiple stops." It was evident from the beginning the Heat were locked in defensively to start the second half. After having just six turnovers in the first half, the Raptors had as many in the third quarter alone. The Heat started the third quarter with a 10-4 run, grabbing the lead for good on a jumpshot by center Chris Bosh that made it 56-54 at the 7:21 mark.
Heat shake off slow start to defeat Raptors 100-85
Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel | Feb 4