With the Toronto Raptors looking to take a 3-2 series lead against the Miami HEAT, All-Star guards DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry turned in their best performances of the series.
DeRozan tied a playoff career-high with 34 points and Lowry added 25 points to lead the Raptors to a 99-91 win over the HEAT on Wednesday night. The victory brings the Raptors one win away from advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history.
The backcourt duo of DeRozan and Lowry combined to score 59 points in the contest after scoring just 19 points combined in Game 4 on Monday night. Perhaps the most encouraging sign for the Raptors was the duo’s ability to hit clutch shots down the stretch.
With the Raptors up by three, Lowry knocked down a three-pointer with 52.5 seconds left to push the lead to six points. Dwyane Wade hit a jumper that cut the deficit to four points, but Lowry answered again by making a pull-up jumper to seal the victory for Toronto.
DeRozan finished with 13 points in the fourth quarter, including six free throws in the final two minutes of the game, while Lowry added seven points in the quarter. DeRozan finished the game a perfect 9-of-9 from the free throw line.
Miami cut the lead down to just one point with 1:54 remaining in the game, but couldn’t get any closer. They outscored the Raptors 29-24 in the fourth quarter behind nine points from Josh Richardson, eight points from Wade and six points from Joe Johnson.
Wade led all HEAT scorers with 20 points, while Goran Dragic and Richardson each had 13 points and Johnson added 11. The HEAT’s bench contributed 43 points, but their starters struggled in the game after shooting just 35 percent from the field.
Miami announced in the third quarter that Luol Deng would not return to the game after suffering a left wrist injury. HEAT head coach Erik Spoelstra said following the game that Deng will undergo an MRI on Thursday to determine the severity of the injury.
Toronto suffered a very significant injury as well, as DeMarre Carroll took a hard fall onto the court and came up clutching his left wrist. The team announced he suffered a contusion and would not return to the game. X-rays came back negative.
For much of the playoffs, the Raptors have received uneven play from their two All-Star guards. Lowry went off for 33 points in Game 3, but followed up that performance with just 10 points on 2-of-11 shooting in Game 4. DeRozan had just nine points in Game 4, going 4-of-17 from the field. He only played about two minutes in the fourth quarter of that game after struggling.
If the Raptors are going to have a chance to clinch the series, Lowry and DeRozan will have to each turn in great performances again.
Miami trailed the Charlotte Hornets 3-2 in the first round and responded by winning the next two games to clinch the series win. Over the past few games, Wade has carried the bulk of the load offensively for Miami. In order for the HEAT to keep their season alive, they’ll need to get other players to step up.
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