Scoring 100 points hasn’t been a problem of late for the Toronto Raptors. Stopping their opponents from reaching that mark hadn’t been a problem, either.
So, although their offense continues to strive, the Raptors are likely going to have to return to their usual form on defense when they host the Miami Heat.
Toronto had a five-game winning streak end with a 114-111 loss to the Boston Celtics on Friday. Vince Carter scored 35 points, but missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer that would have tied it. The loss was the Raptors’ first since their six-player trade with Chicago.
Offense wasn’t Toronto’s problem as it continues to receive strong play from Carter and role players such as Donyell Marshall, who scored 31 points Friday. The Raptors have reached the 100-point mark in four of their last five games.
It was, however, the first time the Raptors surrendered 100 points this season. Toronto ranks among the league’s leaders in defense, limiting opponents to 86 points per game.
Marshall has provided a second scoring option for the Raptors, recording 20 or more in five of six games since joining the Raptors. In 24 games with the Bulls, Marshall reached 20 points just twice.
Jalen Rose shot 1-for-13 but had 14 assists Friday, Chris Bosh added 15 points and Lonny Baxter had 13. Rose, who entered the game needing five points to hit the 10,000 point plateau, had three points.
Odom has averaged 22.5 points and 15.5 rebounds in two starts at power forward since Caron Butler entered the starting lineup at small forward.
“Sometimes, it’s like that,” Odom said of his role. “But that could switch at any given time. My goal is being a piece to this puzzle.”
Butler, who made his first start of the season in Tuesday’s victory against Phoenix, again started but exited 5:12 into the first quarter with a lower-back contusion. He re-entered 2:19 into the second quarter and finished with eight points in 20 minutes.
Miami’s 52 first-half points fell two shy of its best half this season—54 in the second half at Seattle on Nov. 18.
STANDINGS (through Dec. 12): Heat - 4th place (tied), 4 1/2 GB, Atlantic Division. Raptors - 3rd place (tied), 4 1/2 GB, Central Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Heat - Jones, 18.9 ppg; Odom, 8.8 rpg; Wade, 4.1 apg. Raptors - Carter, 23.5 ppg; Marshall and Bosh, 6.7 rpg; Rose, 5 apg.
SEASON SERIES: Heat, 1-0.
LAST MEETING: Nov. 29; Heat, 78-66. At Miami, Wade scored 16 points to lead the Heat.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Heat - 1-11 on the road; Raptors - 8-2 at home.