Raptors subdued as Dragic delivers

Miami guard rises to occasion to help Heat tie series and force Game 7 decider in Toronto

Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic scores two of his 30 points to help his team beat the Toronto Raptors 103-91 and level the Eastern Conference Semi-final series at 3-3.
Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic scores two of his 30 points to help his team beat the Toronto Raptors 103-91 and level the Eastern Conference Semi-final series at 3-3.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MIAMI • Goran Dragic scored 30 points as the Miami Heat roared back to level their National Basketball Association (NBA) Eastern Conference semi-final series with a 103-91 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Friday.

Slovenian star Dragic was outstanding as Miami squared the best-of-seven series at 3-3 to set up a decisive final duel in Toronto.

He had seven rebounds and four assists as Miami seized an early lead before gradually pulling away from the Raptors.

Dragic's tally was his highest-ever in a play-off game and once again demonstrated his knack of delivering on the big occasion.

He has scored 20 or more points in four of his last seven play-off games. Friday's haul came from 12 of 21 shots, including six lay-ups and two three-pointers.

Dwyane Wade also made a telling contribution for Miami, chipping in with 22 points, including five assists and six rebounds at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami.

Kyle Lowry meanwhile gave a superb individual display for Toronto in a losing effort.

The 30-year-old point guard finished with a game-high 36 points, three assists and four rebounds. DeMar DeRozan added 23 for the Raptors.

Toronto coach Dwane Casey said his team had failed to adapt to Miami's early brisk tempo.

"(Miami) set the tempo, and we didn't adjust as far as guarding the basketball and keeping it in front of us," Casey said.

Lowry meanwhile paid tribute to Dragic's match-winning display.

"The way (Dragic) played today - he played downhill," Lowry said.

"He's shifty. He tries to drive the ball. You have to pay attention to him at all times."

Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said the Slovenian's ability to keep calm during a crisis had been crucial throughout the series thus far.

"Goran has great emotional stability. He knows there are going to be highs and lows, especially in a competitive seven-game series," Spoelstra said.

The winner of the series faces a daunting meeting with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference finals.

Toronto are chasing a first-ever appearance in the Conference finals in the Raptors' 20-year history.

If Miami advance, however, it will mean a tantalising duel against James, who helped the franchise land two NBA titles before returning to Cleveland in 2014.

On Friday, Miami had edged clear in a cagey first quarter in which both sides struggled to find their range, shooting only 40 per cent.

But Dragic began to hit his stride in the second quarter, completing six of seven shots from the floor including four lay-ups on his way to collecting 14 points.

That was the cue for Lowry to turn on the style in the third quarter, with 12 points.

But Miami kept their noses in front and extended their lead to 82-72 as the fourth quarter got under way.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 15, 2016, with the headline 'Raptors subdued as Dragic delivers'. Subscribe