Sometimes you can play an almost perfect game of basketball, but a few ill-timed turnovers and some bounces here and there make a world of difference.
On Wednesday night, the Toronto Raptors outshot the Miami Heat, nailed more 3-pointers, and looked pretty strong on both ends of the court throughout. But a few picked off passes and a handful of unfortunate bounces did the Raptors in 116-108 at American Airlines Arena.
"I don't think there were any moments where we were not good tonight," Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. "I thought we were playing really hard. I thought we were searching, yeah we had a couple possessions here and there, but so did they, the offense gets bogged down and there's a late shot clock or whatever, but no, I thought we outplayed them in almost all facets."
Kyle Lowry returned to the lineup for the first time in four days and looked like he hadn't missed a beat. He got right to work in the first quarter nailing a pair of 3-pointer and tallying 12 points.
"He's out there running the show and playing hard," Nurse said. "It was good to see him back out there. I'm actually kind of surprised he came out and played that sharp skill-wise after being off for so long."
The only trouble the Raptors found all night was in the second quarter against Miami's unique zone defence. The Heat like to set up pretty high up the court to deter 3-point shots. Occasionally they'll even invert things, using their bigs at the top of the zone to mess with opposing teams. For Toronto, it created some issues.
"I think I slowed us down a little bit," Chris Boucher said. "We have a good transition team, we like to run and all that, but to beat the zone you kind of got to get the ball there before it gets set and that kind of slows us down so."
On the second night of a back-to-back, the Raptors were forced to go deep into their bench. Pascal Siakam battled early foul trouble and never got things going. He finished with just five points and didn't play a single minute in the fourth quarter.
"It’s tough on a back-to-back, I'm surprised this doesn't happen more often," Nurse said of Siakam.
It's why Lowry's performance was so important on Wednesday. He was the lone player with fresh legs and tallied a team-high 24 points to go with eight assists and seven rebounds.
Toronto was able to whittle down Miami's lead late, cutting it to just five with five minutes to go in the game, but Jimmy Butler scooped up his third steal of the night and went end-to-end to kill the Raptors momentum.
Up Next: Houston Rockets
The Raptors will head back to Tampa for Friday night's game against the Houston Rockets.