The Raptors entered the American Airlines Center with hopes of a second straight win, and first win in Miami since 2008. They left with somewhat of a 'moral victory', having provided the reigning champs with tough competition all night long.
The Raptors may not have earned the win, but they played one of the best games of their season, and proved they can stay tough with the best teams in the NBA. On to some awards...
Raptors MVP: Terrence Ross
T-Ross provided the Raptors with a huge spark off the bench tonight. Once inserted into the game he made an immediate impact, establishing his shot, and using the pump fake to lure defenders and find the open man.
Ross' Achilles heel of forcing bad shots, and being a notorious shot-chucker was non-existent in tonight's match, as he rarely forced a shot, and was creating opportunities for teammates all around the court.
Ross was the momentum stopper in this one, as on several instances, he ended Heat runs with one of a) a huge dunk that had Wade leaping for cover, b) a high arching three-pointer that somehow went in, or c) a slick pass of his, that makes you think "wait, he can do that?!".
Terrence Ross kept this game in striking distance in the third quarter, with his 16 points on 7-16 shooting.
Honorable Mention: Jose Calderon
Mr. Calderon had a very Jose-like game, shooting a good precentage and finding teammates with deception. He was 6-9 from the field and 5-6 from three-point land, earning his 17 points in just 31 minutes of playing time. After being benched in favor of John Lucas III, Jose returned to the game with 3 minutes remaining, and the game slipping away from the Raptors.
Jose hit two daggers from downtown, and led a Raptors offense that nearly outscored this talented Heat squad. The Raptors didn't fold against the Heat down the stretch in the fourth, largely in part to Jose's clutch shooting and ability to communicate with teammates.
Least Clutch Raptor: Alan Anderson
Despite his horrible overtime performance, I couldn't give Anderson the LVP - he did too many things right in today's game.
His defense on LeBron, especially late in the game, was a huge part of the Raptors ability to keep this game close. Anderson played aggressively on the offensive end throughout regulation, making jumpers and driving & dishing, thereby creating opportunities for others.
However, the regulation Alan Anderson, and the OT Alan Anderson seemed like a completely different player.
After making the first two baskets of OT, Anderson decided to keep shooting (bad idea); AA missed his next six shots, all in overtime, five of which were three pointers.
Anderson's six misses in overtime were key, and a big reason why the Raptors got blown out in OT.
Most Surprising Contributor: John Lucas III
I have a lot of respect for John Lucas III. Despite not having played since Tuesday night's Brooklyn match up, Lucas was completely ready to compete, with infinite amount of energy, when called upon in tonight's match up. Lucas was put into the game late in the third quarter, to replace a tired Jose Calderon.
Although Lucas was put in for temporary purposes, his play on the defensive end kept him in far longer. Lucas, the 5 ft 9 PG, was faced with the task of covering future Hall of Famer, 6 ft 4 SG Dwayne Wade, and he did not back down. Lucas played very tough defense on Wade, limiting him to just two baskets in 11 minutes.
With three minutes left, Jose Calderon did replace John Lucas in the line up, but certainly not for defensive reasons.
Comment of the Game: via Carl J
"This is going to be like a Julius Caesar movie ....
Entertaining, but we all have some sort of idea how it's going to end"
Carl J makes a great point. The Raptors have suffered so many heartbreaking losses, that many Raptor fans have become accostimed to this dissapointment, and simply assume the Raptors will find a way to lose in a heartbreaking fashion. Tonight was one of those nights, and Carl J completely called it.
Tweet of the Game:
These come from the master troll himself, Skip Bayless.
Ho hum, LeBron misses another walk-off shot.— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) January 24, 2013
Ho hum, LeBron (triple double), DWade and Ray cruise in overtime.— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) January 24, 2013
The Raptors next game is tomorrow night, as they enter Orlando to face Glen Davis and the Magic. Be sure to drop by the HQ, as we'll be blogging live as usual.