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Heat escapes Raptors in OT to tie series

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The Miami Heat were on the ropes, but managed to come away with a 94-87 victory in overtime on Monday night in American Airlines Arena. With the victory, Miami evened their best-of-seven NBA Eastern Conference semi-final series at two games apiece.

Looking at the statistics, it easy to wonder how the Raptors were even close. Their star center, Jonas Valanciunas, has been lost for the remainder of the series due to a sprained ankle.

Star guards DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry shot a combined six of 28 from the field for 19 points. As a team, the Raptors shot only 39 percent.

Miami had troubles of their own. Their big man, Hassan Whiteside, missed the game due to a knee injury. He is listed as day-to-day.

Fortunately, Dwyane Wade put his team on his back and helped will them to the victory. The Heat was only one for 15 from behind the three-point arc, but that one came at a key point in the game.

Miami led 25-21 after one quarter and expanded the lead to 44-35 at halftime. The Heat scored only four points in the first seven minutes of the third quarter and fell behind 52-48.

With 1:08 left in the quarter and Toronto leading 60-54, Goran Dragic nailed Miami’s only three-pointer of the night and was fouled. The four-point play brought his team within two points with Miami trailing 62-60 heading into the fourth quarter.

Lowry’s second basket of the game put the Raptors up, 79-72 with less than five minutes to play. Back came the Heat and with 12 seconds to play, Wade made a driving layup to tie the game at 83 and send it into overtime. In the extra period, Miami outscored the Raptors 11-4 and claimed the victory.

Wade played like a leader on a team that clearly needed one. He poured in 30 points, scoring clutch baskets when the Heat needed them. Dragic and Joe Johnson each had 15.

“It looked dark for a minute, but there was no quit in us,” said Wade. “I’m as confident as I’ve been all season right now.”

Without Valanciunas and with Lowry and DeRozan missing in action, Toronto counted on their reserves. Terrance Ross and Cory Joseph each scored 14 points off the bench. Bismack Biyombo, starting for Valanciunas, added 13 points and 13 rebounds.

Game 5 is Wednesday night in Toronto.

 

Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at Bob@ramos-sparks.com.

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