TORONTO • With All-Star guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan struggling, the Toronto Raptors had to find other ways to win.
On Thursday, it was forward DeMarre Carroll stepping up with a game-high 21 points, as the Raptors defeated the Miami Heat 96-92 in overtime and tied the best-of-seven National Basketball Association (NBA) Eastern Conference semi-final series at 1-1.
"I'm encouraged," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "We're finding other ways to win, that's very encouraging. We've got to continue to find ways to help Kyle and DeMar, and hopefully get their rhythm going soon."
DeRozan and Lowry combined to go 16-for-46 from the field. DeRozan, who had his right thumb taped up after jamming it in Game 1, shot an uncharacteristic two-of-eight from the foul line. He finished with 20 points and eight rebounds.
"It's been ugly," he said. "It's a grind, honestly. We knew none of this was going to be pretty.
"As long as we can come out with a 'W', it really doesn't matter how we play, but it's going to come."
Lowry chipped in 18 points and six assists. He shot seven-for-22 from the floor, one-for-seven from three-point range and three-for-six on free throws.
Goran Dragic led Miami with 20 points, while Dwyane Wade and Joe Johnson had 17 points each in the loss. Hassan Whiteside contributed 13 points and 13 rebounds.
"The second half, I thought we were aggressive, I thought we were making some good defensive plays," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "Then the last four or five minutes, they made (big) plays."
Toronto centre Jonas Valanciunas had nine fourth-quarter points to help erase what was a seven- point Heat lead. Lowry then scored back-to-back baskets to give Toronto an 86-83 lead, but Dragic hit a three-pointer with 10.5sec left to force overtime.
Miami out-scored Toronto 24-15 in the third quarter, closing on a 13-2 run to take a 65-63 lead into the fourth quarter. However, they ran out of steam in overtime, as the Raptors out-scored them 10-6 to seal the Game 2 win.
That was the opposite of Game 1, in which Toronto could not score for the first 3min 46sec of the overtime period.
Carroll scored 12 first-half points, including a nice give-and-go with Valanciunas to round out the half, giving the Raptors a 48-41 lead at the break.
"(Carroll) was the saviour tonight offensively," Casey said of the forward, who missed 41 regular-season games due to a knee injury and played just three of the final five regular-season games after returning.
"He's just now getting his game conditioning back, getting in the rhythm. He's still feeling his way in certain situations as far as getting grooving with the offence. He's just now coming around."
The Heat matched a franchise worst by committing 11 first-quarter turnovers, helping the Raptors to a 29-19 lead after the first period.
"This loss left a bad taste in our mouth," said Dragic, particularly for him after he received stitches for a bleeding lower lip after taking a DeRozan elbow to the chin in the second quarter.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE