MIAMI • There was no Hassan Whiteside for the Miami Heat because of what could be a serious right knee injury, and no Jonas Valanciunas for the Toronto Raptors because of what is a less severe twisted right ankle.
"In the end," Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said on Saturday of the effect of the injuries to the two outstanding National Basketball Association centres, "it looked like a 6-4-and-under league."
Fortunately for Toronto, their little guy, Kyle Lowry the six-footer (1.83m), made more clutch shots than Miami's 1.93m Dwyane Wade, who had 38 points.
Lowry scored 29 of his 33 points in the second half as his team won 95-91 away at the American Airlines Arena, taking a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semi-final series.
Game 4 is today in Miami.
Lowry was poor in the first two games, making 10 of 35 shots from the field (28.6 per cent). He fared even worse on three-pointers, making two of 14 (14.3 per cent).
On Saturday, he made 11 of 19 (57.9 per cent), including five of eight on threes (62.5 per cent).
"I felt it was a matter of time before my shots would go in," said the All-Star guard. "I just wanted to be aggressive."
With that mindset, he scored 15 in the third quarter, going three of three on three-pointers. He then added 14 points in the fourth quarter, including a jumper over Wade with 31 seconds left to give his team a three-point lead.
"Kyle shot some daggers," said Wade, who scored 18 of his 38 points in the third quarter.
However, the big story was the injuries.
Miami's Whiteside, who led the NBA in blocked shots this season and finished third in balloting for the league's Defensive Player of the Year, hurt his knee during a pile-up with 10min 53sec left in the second quarter. He injured the same knee in Game 1 but kept going.
"I think Lowry (dived) or fell into my knee and pushed it in," said Whiteside, who added that his pain level was a seven on a scale of 10. "I don't know if it was intentional."
Valanciunas, who averaged 19.5 points and 13.0 rebounds in the first two games, had 16 points and 12 rebounds when he was injured with 8:53 left in the third quarter when he tried to block a Wade lay-up and fell awkwardly.
"There's nothing broken, nothing structural," Toronto coach Dwane Casey said. "They lost their rim protector (Whiteside) and we lost ours. We'll see what happens."
MIAMI V TORONTO
Game 4: StarHub Ch216, tomorrow, 8am