TORONTO ó Sixty-point first halves by their opponents have not been the norm since the Raptors season turned around six weeks ago, but that was about all that was out of the ordinary Wednesday night.
The Raps withstood a furious first-half from Dwyane Wade that led to one of those high-scoring first halves reminiscent of the first 90 days of the season, and then put on their own offensive showcase in the second to pull away for a 111-103 win.
It all started with a defensive stand in that third quarter when the Raps held the Heat to just 21 points to open up a four-point lead of their own.
Offensively, Andrea Bargnani held the hot hand for the Raptors finishing the night with 27 points which was one point off his season high.
Chris Bosh, who no longer needs to be the Rapsí leading scorer every night for a chance at a win, finished with a solid 24 and 18 rebounds.
The finishing blow by the Raps may have been the most satisfying of all. Nursing home a four-point lead and following a Dorell Wright miss at the Raptors basket, Jose Calderon calmly ran down the clock until finding Antoine Wright alone in the corner with a pass with a second left on the shot clock. Wright nailed the three for a comfortable seven-point edge.
It was the 10th win in the past 11 home games for the Raps as they leap-frogged Miami in the Eastern Conference standings to take over sole possession of fifth.
The improved Raptors defence was seemingly nowhere to be found in the first half as the Heat, led by one ticked-off Wade, scored at will.
Wade, still stinging from a loss to Cleveland on Monday in which he missed free throws, threw a bad pass and failed to convert the potential game-winner in a gem of a mid-season tilt with LeBron James, played the entire first quarter last night and led all scorers with 14.
In seven second-quarter minutes, he had another seven to go with five first-half assists. He finished up with a game-high 35 but it still wasnít enough to overcome a Raptors team that is looking more comfortable with each game.
Normally, the Raptors would look to Bosh to answer something like that in one-man output. But with former Raptor Jermaine OíNeal doing a nice job on Bosh go-to scorer in the early going, it fell to their second scoring option, Bargnani, and the big Italian didnít disappoint.
Bargnani may not have been Wade-hot, but he was certainly in a groove, hitting 6-of-10 from the field for 13 points in that first half.
In the third quarter, he turned it up another notch, going 7-for-8 from the field to take a personal 27-point night into the final quarter.
He didnít score again, but the Raptors didnít need him to.