(Sports Xchange) – With All-Star guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan continuing to struggle, the Toronto Raptors are forced to find other ways to win.
On Thursday night, it was forward DeMarre Carroll stepping up with a game-high 21 points as the Raptors defeated the Miami Heat 96-92 in overtime.
The Raptors evened the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semi-final series at one game apiece. The series moves to Miami’s AmericanAirlines Arena for Game 3 on Saturday.
“I’m encouraged; we’ve got to take it,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “We’re finding other ways to win, that’s very encouraging. We’ve got to continue to grow with them, find ways to help them and hopefully get their rhythm.”
DeRozan and Lowry combined to go 16-for-46 from the field. DeRozan, who had his right thumb taped up after jamming it in Game 1, shot an uncharacteristically low 2-for-8 from the foul line. He finished with 20 points and eight rebounds.
“It’s been ugly,” DeRozan said with a laugh. “But when we do (play our game), I’m pretty sure you’re going to know. It’s a grind, honestly. We knew none of this was going to be pretty. None of this was going to come out pretty.
“As long as we can come out with a ‘W,’ it really doesn’t matter how we play, but it’s going to come.”
Lowry chipped in 18 points and six assists. He shot 7-for-22 from the floor, 1-for-7 from 3-point range and 3-for-6 on free throws.
Goran Dragic topped Miami with 20 points, while Dwyane Wade and Joe Johnson had 17 points each in the loss. Hassan Whiteside contributed 13 points and 13 rebounds.
“The second half, I thought we were aggressive, I thought we were making some good defensive plays,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Then the last four or five minutes, they made (big) plays.”
Toronto center Jonas Valanciunas had nine fourth-quarter points to help erase what was once a seven-point Heat lead. Lowry then scored back-to-back Raptors baskets, sandwiching a Wade 3-pointer, to give Toronto an 86-83 lead, but Dragic hit a 3-pointer with 10.5 seconds remaining to force overtime.
Lowry fired an airball on a long 3-point attempt at the regulation buzzer.
Miami outscored Toronto 24-15 in the third quarter, closing on a 13-2 run to take a 65-63 lead into the fourth. The Heat shot 11-for-16 from the field in the third, while the Raptors hit just six of 20.