Heat make it look easy against Raptors

LeBron James had a game-high 30 pts. (REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

LeBron James had a game-high 30 pts. (REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:46 PM ET

MIAMI - Sometimes no matter how hard you play, no matter how much you want it, you’re simply outgunned and that was the story for the Raptors on Super Bowl Sunday.

Despite a solid effort for most of the 48 minutes, despite some of the most aggressive drives to the basket of DeMar DeRozan’s season and some solid success for Dwane Casey’s zone defence against the vaunted Miami Heat, in the end the talent gap was too wide as the Heat came away with a 95-89 win.

The Raps were within four at the end of one quarter, five at the half and then opened the door just a crack with some poor decision-making and paid the price in the third quarter.

It was in the third that the Heat held the Raps to just 14 points and opened up a 13-point lead heading into the final quarter, a gap they took a run at but could never close.

The Raps fought back yet again and whittled the lead down to three with three minutes to play but could not get any closer.

“We had some big turnovers in the third quarter that I thought broke our back and when you turn it over against these guys it’s easy dunks and layups,” Dwane Casey said. “That’s what got us in the third quarter.”

Casey though could not fault what he got from his charges.

“I liked our disposition,” he said. “I liked the way we approached it and competed. Take away the third quarter and I don’t even think it was a lack of disposition then as much as it was poor decisions. A couple of decision in the zone where we gave up a couple of open threes that hurt us but for the most part I liked our disposition.”

But when the Heat needed to put the game away at the end they had LeBron James getting to the line and converting both freebies to make the three-point lead up to five.

Seconds later he jumped a pass at the top of the key and went in for an uncontested slam and the lead was seven.

The Raptors don’t have that guy who can single-handedly take over a game. The Heat have James and Dwyane Wade who can do that.

What they had to settle for Sunday was the knowledge that they can compete even at the NBA’s highest level.

GOING WITH THE HOT HAND

It’s not often that the Raptors find themselves in a close game in crunch time and don’t have Jose Calderon on the floor, but that was the situation Sunday afternoon.

Calderon committed a few uncharacteristic turnovers in the game-turning third quarter. With five minutes remaining in the frame and with five turnovers already beside his name, Casey decided it was better to go Jerryd Bayless.

Bayless had it going for a good chunk of the fourth quarter and was one of the key reasons (he and Linas Kleiza combined for 21 points in the final 12 minutes) the Raptors got back to within three, before James took the game over.

Calderon didn’t feel his turnovers were all that egregious — one came on a travelling call, another was a pass attempt to DeRozan that got knocked away and a third came with Aaron Gray rolling to the basket only to have Calderon’s pass go off his head, which was down instead of looking for the pass.

Bayless finished the game with 17 points, three assists and no turnovers. Calderon had eight points, three assists and five turnovers.

ROCK AND A HARD PLACE

Casey knew he needed his scoring lineup on the floor to start the game in light of the high-scoring opponent he was playing.

The problem with that strategy is it moved DeRozan to small forward and that meant DeRozan guarding the he-man of the NBA, James.

DeRozan said his main goal was to make James and Wade work as hard defending him as they made him work defending them.

There were easily two, if not three occasions in the game where DeRozan seemed to throw all his inhibitions away and drove hard to the basket. He either got the dunk or went to the line for his payoff.

DeRozan finished with 25 points which included nine freebies from the line.

As for guarding James, DeRozan admitted it was a challenge.

“It was crazy,” DeRozan said. “I felt like I was a kid out there against him, but it was fun and definitely a challenge.”

FREE-THROW DEFENCE

As Casey has pointed out in the past, this isn’t his first rodeo when it comes to coaching and specifically the part of his job that involves dealing with the media.

So it was a very careful coach Casey on Sunday that replied to a question about the discrepancy in calls going for his team and against his team.

“For whatever reason they shot 34 free throws and we shot 21,” Casey said, stopping well short of the line that normally brings on a fine from the league. “I told our guys keep driving, even in that first quarter when it was something like 10-1 (trips to the line favouring Miami). Until we earn (the refs) respect we have to keep driving, but we’re getting there.”

Worse than the discrepancy at times was the overly dramatic Heat whining every time they were whistled for a foul.

It was consistent from the first foul to the last. Each and every time it happened the referee who made the call would find himself surrounded by Heat players wanting to challenge or simply bitch about the call.

Casey knows the lay of the land on this one. A young team has to earn its reputation and he’s seeing progress.

“I think everybody is seeing that we are playing hard and we are competing on every play, aggressively attacking the basket and competing on the defensive end,” Casey said. “We will get there. We will get some of those calls.”

QUICK HITS

Kleiza is certainly looking very comfortable these days on surgically repaired knee. For the second game in a row he was an offensive force scoring 12 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter ... The long-range shooting really let the Raptors down. As a team they attempted 16 three’s and only made good on three of them ... After bursting out with 17 assists in Friday’s win against Washington, Calderon was limited to just three dimes in Sunday’s game.


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