Raptors wrestle control of series with Game 5 win over Heat

Toronto’s starting backcourt combines for 59 points; Carroll leaves with wrist injury

DeMar DeRozan played with what felt “like a blowtorch” for a right hand. Kyle Lowry’s cut face looked like it had gone a few rounds in the ring.

But for the first time this post-season, they looked and played like themselves — on the same night.

And now the Toronto Raptors are one victory away from the NBA Eastern Conference final.

DeRozan scored 34 points, while Lowry had 25 points and 10 rebounds to lift the Raptors 99-91 over the Heat on Wednesday. They head back to Miami with a 3-2 lead in their best-of-seven second-round series.

“They’re our guys,” said coach Dwane Casey — as he’s been saying all playoffs. “We can disparage them all we want to and talk about how bad their shooting is, but you don’t forget how to score the basketball. We have faith in those guys, they carried us the entire season.”

A victory in Friday’s Game 6 and the Raptors will play in the Conference finals for the first time in the team’s 21-year history.

But in what’s turned into a series of attrition, the Raptors lost DeMarre Carroll late in the third quarter. Carroll, who’d been playing smothering defence on Dwyane Wade, fell hard on his left wrist, which bent on an angle wrists aren’t intended to bend. He left the game in considerable pain, and then was taken for an MRI.

The Raptors are already without Jonas Valanciunas for the series (ankle), while the Heat are missing starting centre Hassan Whiteside (knee), and Luol Deng left Wednesday’s game with a wrist injury.

DeRozan jammed his thumb late in Game 1, and his shooting has been horrific since. But the all-star guard shot 11-for- 22 from the field and a perfect 11-for-11 from the free-throw line. He was aggressive all night; there was zero tentativeness with the bad thumb.

“That was huge for us,” Casey said. “Usually you’re not sticking [the hand] in there as much, he did. His heart’s in the right place, giving his body up for the team and that’s how you win in this league. I told him he’ll rest this summer.

“At this time nobody is totally healthy. Kyle looks like a boxer, he’s got cuts on both eyes so this is the time you play through it, this is what you prepare your professional career for, the playoffs.”

Lowry and DeRozan’s solid shooting sparked an early 20-point Raptors lead, before the Heat cut it to 10 with a 16-2 run that straddled the second and third quarter.

The Raptors headed into the fourth up 75-62, but back-to-back three-pointers from Josh Richardson cut the lead to seven points. DeRozan took a hard hit to his thumb, and made a beeline for the locker-room. But he returned with four minutes to play, to a warm ovation, and promptly gave them reason to cheer.

“I didn’t have no doubt in my mind that I was coming back, I don’t care how bad it was hurting,” DeRozan said.

Article Written By: Lori Ewing with The Canadian Press