Raptors fall to Heat at buzzer in physical affair

The Raptors were without Kyle Lowry and fell to the Heat 90-89 after Wayne Ellington hit the last-second lay-up.

TORONTO — DeMar DeRozan and the Toronto Raptors couldn’t secure a club-record 13th straight home win without their floor general.

Wayne Ellington’s basket with time running out earned the Miami Heat a 90-89 road victory over Toronto on Tuesday night, snapping the Raptors’ home win streak at 12 straight games.

Toronto (28-11) suffered its first loss in six games and fell to 14-2 on home court. The Raptors were minus Kyle Lowry as the star point guard suffered a back injury Monday night in the club’s 114-113 overtime road win over Brooklyn.

“The whole game is completely different without Kyle,” DeRozan said. “You could kind of tell with our ball movement, it wasn’t all the way there like it normally would be with Kyle out there.

“He’s the general on the floor, he sees things when they need to be called. That’s no excuse. We still fought hard, we still had our opportunity. We lost it by one.”

Delon Wright started in Lowry’s place, registering 13 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

DeRozan finished with 25 points and put Toronto ahead 89-88 with 3.1 seconds remaining. But Ellington’s driving layup stunned the crowd that included Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor.

Goran Dragic had 24 points to lead the Heat (23-17), which led by as much as 12 points and improved to 14-3 when holding opponents under 100 points. Bam Adebayo added 15 points while Toronto native Kelly Olynyk had four points and five rebounds.

Miami head coach Eric Spoelstra said Ellington’s winning play didn’t go exactly as planned.

“And that’s probably why Wayne was open,” he said. “That’s probably the last thing anybody would think he would do, put the ball on the floor.

“You have to be lucky in this game as well. I think it caught everyone by surprise, including me … he made a heck of a finish, that was not an easy finish at the top.”

Toronto struggled to establish any consistent offensive rhythm through much of the contest but still rallied to make it very close in the fourth. The Raptors pulled to within 76-73 on Norm Powell’s field goal with 8:31 remaining before Miami responded with consecutive baskets to go ahead 80-73 with 6:21 to play.

The Raptors made it 80-77 with 5:11 remaining on Wright’s two free throws, but Miami again countered with consecutive baskets for an 84-77 lead. Wright’s three-pointer cut the Heat’s lead to 86-83 with 3:20 to play.

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DeRozan’s layup with 2:23 remaining made it a one-point game before he put Toronto ahead 87-86 with under two minutes to play.

Dragic helped Miami go ahead 88-87 before DeRozan and Ellington exchanged baskets for the thrilling finish. The Heat earned its season-best fifth consecutive win and first victory at the ACC in six visits.

Defensively, Toronto held Miami to 38.9 per cent shooting. But the Heat outrebounded the Raptors 64-37 overall and 20-7 in the offensive end.

“I mean, we hold a team to 40 per cent,” said Toronto coach Dwane Casey. “The lack of ball movement, spacing, cutting, playing with force, we didn’t do it and we dug ourselves a hole.

“We only had five turnovers but again the offensive rebounding, they had three guys with double-digit rebounds. Hats off to Miami, we didn’t play well enough to win.”

Casey wasn’t about to pin the loss on Lowry’s absence.

“There’s a multitude of things,” he said. “Probably guys feel like they have to do more without Kyle out there.

“Again, you hate for it to come down to a last possession like that but we dug that hole way in the beginning in the game. We’ll learn from it, grow from it, get better from it and no matter who’s out there we’ll keep on going.”

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Things got testy at 7:50 of the third when Miami’s James Johnson and Toronto’s Serge Ibaka were ejected following an altercation with the Heat leading 55-52. Jonas Valanciunas’s field goal had pulled Toronto to within 53-52 as part of an 11-2 run by the home team to open the quarter.

But six straight points by Dragic put Miami ahead 63-54 with 4:47 remaining. Consecutive C.J. Miles three-pointers cut Toronto’s deficit to 70-64 but Miami still took a 72-64 advantage into the fourth.

Miami led 51-41 at halftime after outscoring Toronto 20-10 to snap a 31-31 tie in the second.

Toronto doesn’t have time to worry about Tuesday’s loss. The Raptors host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night before facing the defending champion Golden State Warriors at the ACC on Saturday night.


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