Heat Looks To Bounce Back Against Raptors
(AP) — LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have played some of their best basketball against Chris Bosh’s former team, and the Miami Heat have yet to drop a meeting with Toronto since the three joined forces.
They’ve yet to face a Raptors squad featuring Rudy Gay, though.
The Heat seek a 10th straight victory in this series Sunday as they conclude a four-game road trip against Toronto, which looked rather impressive in Gay’s debut.
James scored a career-high 56 points at Toronto on March 20, 2005, while playing for Cleveland, and he has four of his 34 career regular-season triple-doubles versus the Raptors – the latest being a 31-point, 10-rebound, 11-assist performance in a 123-116 overtime home victory Jan. 23.
Wade netted 35 points in that contest and is averaging 31.5 in his last 11 against Toronto. Bosh has thrived in two trips to Air Canada Centre as a member of the Heat (29-14), averaging 27.5 points.
The Raptors, though, looked good in Gay’s debut Friday after acquiring the forward from Memphis in a three-team trade on Wednesday. Gay received a standing ovation before tipoff and came off the bench to score a game-high 20 points in a 98-73 rout of the Los Angeles Clippers.
Toronto (17-30) had dropped eight of its previous 10 contests.
“It felt great to be accepted like I (was),” Gay said. “It was just good to get out there and play basketball. There’s been so many other things going on. This is my first time having to go through it.”
Gay is hoping to make an impact for a struggling Toronto team after coming from a Memphis club that was contending for home-court advantage in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. With leading scorer DeMar DeRozan in the mix, Gay believes the young Raptors have a bright future.
“He’s by far the best (shooting) guard I’ve ever played with,” Gay said of DeRozan, who scored 19 points Friday. “This is just the start of it. The more practice, the more games we play together the better we’ll get.
“We’re young, we’re explosive. There are so many different ways we can score and so many different options we have.”
The Raptors proved they could play some defense, too, shutting down the high-scoring Clippers after giving up an average of 106.2 points over their previous 10.
Gay scored a career-high 41 points versus the Heat on Dec. 13, 2009, and DeRozan is averaging 21.3 points in his last eight in this series.
The Heat should be hungry to shut those two down after a poor defensive performance Friday in Indiana. The Pacers shot 55.7 percent and cruised to a 102-89 win, never trailing after late in the first quarter.
Opponents are shooting only 43.9 percent against Miami this season.
“We have to get better and play better at both ends of the court,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Hopefully, we will.”
James scored 28 points and Wade added 17 as Miami fell to 1-2 on its trip.
“We’re not going to let it linger,” Wade said. “We’ll learn from it, but we’ll move on and finish this road trip.”