TORONTO — DeMar DeRozan is making the decision easy for NBA coaches mulling over fleshing out the league’s all-star roster.
The Raptors guard poured in 33 points Friday night as Toronto extended its winning streak to seven games with a 101-81 victory over the injury-riddled Miami Heat.
DeRozan scored 22 of those points in the first half on nine-of-15 shooting. He was a little colder in the second half but teammates were usually around to finish off what he started.
DeRozan made 12 of 25 shots on the night, including four of five from three-point range. He also had six rebounds and four assists.
Toronto coach Dwane Casey says DeRozan is evolving and adding to his repertoire. DeRozan says it’s like checkers — you try to think two or three moves ahead.
"The game is coming slow to him," said Casey. "He’s now shooting the three-ball and teams are going to have to run out to him now. He’s got the opportunity to get to the point. That’s something he’s added."
"If it’s there, I’ll shoot it," DeRozan said of the three-pointer. "I’m not going to come out like a Ray Allen."
It marks Toronto’s longest winning string under Casey and the franchise’s longest run of victories since a nine-game stretch in 2002.
There was some symmetry to the night. It was 10 years ago to the day that Lakers star Kobe Bryant scored 81 points in a 122-104 victory over the Raptors at the Staples Center. There was another 81 scored but this time it was the opposition’s total. And Toronto won.
The Heat never led and trailed by as many as 20 as they lost their fourth straight and seventh of their last eight.
DeRozan, looking to join teammate Kyle Lowry at next month’s all-star game in Toronto, came out on fire and had 22 points, five rebounds and four assists in the first half. His nine field goals made in the half were a career high.
It’s the second time in DeRozan’s career that he has scored 30 or more points in three straight games. He came into the contest averaging 23.1 points per game for the season.
"It’s not like I’m going out there telling myself I’m going to get 30, 40 points," DeRozan said. "I just try to go out there and win."
Lowry had 15 points on the night, with the crowd chanting MVP as he went to the line in the final minutes.
Asked about DeRozan’s performance, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra was quick to include Lowry.
"Well, it’s both of them. It’s not the end stat, it’s the timeliness of their plays."
Former Raptor Chris Bosh, with 10 first-quarter points, went over the 17,000 mark for his career. He finished with 26, drawing a regular chorus of boos throughout the night.
All-star guard Dwyane Wade, who overcame a shoulder injury to start, finished with 22 points.
But the Heat were without Chris Andersen (knee), Luol Deng (eye), Josh McRoberts (knee), Hassan Whiteside (oblique) and Beno Udrih (neck). Goran Dragic (calf) dressed but did not play.
The Heat essentially went with eight players. The ninth, Jarnell Stokes, played one minute 36 seconds.
"Today’s approach was business as usual," Spoelstra said prior to the game.
"We’re not feeling sorry for ourselves," he added. "Nobody else will, we know that."
The game was a sellout of 19,800, marking the first time the Air Canada Centre has been full for the first 20 games of a Raptors season.
The crowd roared in the first quarter when Miami’s Tyler Johnson blew a breakaway reverse dunk attempt in spectacular fashion. Johnson came in for more abuse in the second when a Cory Joseph move left him stumbling like a drunken sailor.
Rachel McAdams, meanwhile, was shown some love by a clearly smitten Raptors mascot who presented the Canadian actress with a team jersey, flowers and mini-Raptor plush toy.
The Heat’s Gerald Green missed a dunk over Raptor behemoth Bismack Biyombo in the second quarter. Green thumped the padding under the basket in frustration and, still brooding, was hit with a technical soon after.
Miami briefly cut the lead to a single digit with four minutes left in the game at 88-79.