TORONTO • The Toronto Raptors' All-Star guards, DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, have been criticised for not living up to their status during this National Basketball Association play-offs.
Both stifled the talk on Wednesday, as DeRozan scored 34 points and Lowry added 25 to lead the Raptors to a 99-91 win over the Miami Heat and a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference semi-final series.
As both went through shooting slumps during the play-offs, Raptors coach Dwane Casey stayed with them even as the criticism mounted.
"They're our guys, we can disparage them all we want to, and talk about their shooting," Casey said. "But again you don't forget how to score the basketball.
"It's going to come back. When? You hope it's within the series, but it's going to come back.
"We have faith in those guys. They carried us the entire season. Not one time did we doubt their ability to score the basketball, nor did their team-mates."
The Raptors led by as many as 16 points in the first quarter and were ahead by 20 in the second quarter before the Heat began chipping away at their deficit.
Toronto had a 13-point lead into the fourth quarter, but Miami reduced it to five points with just under five minutes to play.
"Even though we played so poorly in the first half," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
"We just had a feeling the game was going to come down to a possession game at the end. It did and they made more plays.
"They got some extra possessions offensively and made some big shots down the stretch. We weren't able to get over that hump. We felt we were going to be able to once we got it to one... but unfortunately we weren't able to."
DeRozan made two free throws with 21.3 seconds left and made two more with nine seconds remaining to increase the lead to eight points and clinch the win.
"We're just trying to go out there and be aggressive," he said. "We were aggressive in these two series and the shots just weren't dropping."
Heat guard Dwyane Wade said: "They made shots. They're All-Star players. DeMar was locked in all night. (But) that wasn't what beat us.
"Just a slow start for us. Getting down big early, down 10 at the end of the first, from then we played great basketball."