NBA: Raptors cool off Heat to lead Eastern Conference semi-final series 2-1

 Toronto Raptors forward Patrick Patterson (left) drives the ball past Miami Heat forward Josh McRoberts.
Toronto Raptors forward Patrick Patterson (left) drives the ball past Miami Heat forward Josh McRoberts. PHOTO: EPA

MIAMI (REUTERS) - In a game in which both starting centres did not return after suffering leg injuries, Kyle Lowry scored 33 points as the Toronto Raptors defeated the Miami Heat 95-91 on Saturday in Game 3 of the National Basketball Association Eastern Conference semi-finals.

The Raptors lead the best-of-seven series 2-1. Game 4 is on Monday in Miami.

Lowry, who had been slumping in the first two games of the series, scored 15 points in the third quarter, going 3 of 3 on three-pointers. He then added 14 points in the fourth quarter, including a jumper over Dwyane Wade with 31 seconds left to give Toronto a three-point lead.

The Heat's Joe Johnson missed a three-pointer from the top of the key with 16.8 seconds left that would have tied the score.

Miami was led by Wade, who scored 18 of his 38 points in the third quarter. He had 11 points in the fourth quarter but missed a contested three-pointer with 9.5 seconds left with Miami down by four.

However, Heat centre Hassan Whiteside reinjured his right knee with 10min 53sec left in the second quarter. He had hurt the knee in Game 1 but kept playing.

This time, Whiteside, who led the NBA in blocked shots this season and finished third in balloting for the league's Defensive Player of the Year, left the game with six points and no rebounds in eight minutes.

Toronto centre Jonas Valanciunas, who averaged 19.5 points and 13.0 rebounds in the first two games, had 16 points and 12 rebounds when he sprained his right ankle with 8:53 left in the third quarter.

The Raptors led 55-42 when the injury happened to Valanciunas, who was hurt when he tried to block a Wade lay-up and fell awkwardly.

Toronto led early, taking a 23-19 lead after the first quarter and 49-40 at the half. The Raptors heated up in the second quarter, shooting 68.8 per cent from the floor and leading by as many as 11 points.

The Heat, who shot just 46.2 per cent from the floor in the first half, had one rather unexpected highlight in the second quarter. That's when back-up centre Josh McRoberts, playing for Whiteside, blocked a dunk attempt by Valanciunas, leading to a Luol Deng lay-up.

In the third quarter, Wade had a sensational play, following his own missed mid-range jumper by dunking the ball with his right hand, all in one motion. That seemed to ignite Wade for his huge quarter as the Heat rallied to tie the score 68-68.