MIAMI — Kyle Lowry was all alone for what seemed like forever. He was in the corner in front of the Miami bench early in the fourth quarter, no Heat defenders within 10 feet of him, and made as open a three-pointer as one can find in an NBA game.
They weren’t all that easy for Toronto. But the Raptors made a lot of them look that way.
Lowry scored 24 points, and the Raptors tied a franchise record by making 21 three-pointers while rolling past the Heat 125-104 on Sunday. Half of Lowry’s 10 assists set up threes for the Raptors — who became the 19th team this season to set or tie a franchise mark for three-pointers in a game.
“Good weather. The body was warm. It definitely helps,” Lowry said. “But we just came out with a composed mentality. We knew who we’re going up against, and those guys are hard to play.”
The three-pointer was the difference. Toronto made 42 field goals, exactly the same as Miami. The Raptors had seven more turnovers. The Heat had five more bench points.
These are not the makings of a 21-point win. The 63-24 edge in scoring from beyond the arc, that was too much for Miami to overcome.
“You could tell they prepared for us,” Miami’s Dwyane Wade said. “They prepared for our zone. They did things that teams normally don’t do in the zone and they made shots out of it so kudos to them for coming in with a great game plan and executing it.”
Danny Green scored 15 points, all on three-pointers. Norman Powell also scored 15, and OG Anunoby and Jeremy Lin each scored 11 for the Raptors, whose only other game with 21 threes came against Philadelphia in 2005. The Raptors were 21 of 40 from deep and 21 of 34 from inside the arc — shooting 57 per cent.
Bam Adebayo scored 19 for the Heat, who had won four in a row. Wade and Dion Waiters each scored 15, and Rodney McGruder added 13.
“This is the prototypical, modern, progressive NBA — threes versus twos,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Exhibit A.”
Kawhi Leonard missed the game — “load management” was the cited reason — and hasn’t appeared in more than two consecutive Raptors games since playing in five straight from Jan. 25 through Feb. 5.
It hasn’t hurt Toronto: the Raptors are now 14-5 when Leonard doesn’t play, and he’ll sit a few more before the playoffs.
“We’ve kind of looked at it all the way through now, and I think there’s maybe a few games yet that he’s going to probably stay out,” coach Nick Nurse said. “We’re just super happy with where we are with it. We kind of feel like we’re ahead of the game.”
The Raptors set the tone early, going seven for 10 from three-point range in the opening quarter. They cooled off, albeit only slightly.
By halftime Toronto was up to 12 makes from beyond the arc, helping send the Raptors into the locker room with a 68-54 lead. They had a 14-0 run late in the second quarter, and then the threes just kept coming.
“The shooting gods were with us today,” Nurse said. “No doubt about that.”