The way Dwyane Wade labored through 31 minutes Friday night in Chicago with a bruised left thigh — missing 12 of his 15 shots — Heat coach Erik Spoelstra had a pretty good idea before he even boarded the team plane that he wouldn’t have his leading scorer for Saturday’s game against the Raptors.
“Quick back-to-back, I didn’t think I was going to help us,” said Wade, who missed just his sixth game of the season and is averaging 20.9 points, 4.7 rebounds and 5.1 assists since the All-Star break.
“I’m going to do everything I can to get back on the court as quick as possible. But I’ll take it a day at a time. The biggest thing is by the time you come back you want to have your explosion. This [injury] kind of takes your explosion away from the area it’s in. Hopefully, it will be there Monday.”
The Heat didn’t have its fourth-quarter closer around Saturday night, but Joe Johnson and Luol Deng did a valiant job filling in and forcing overtime. It just wasn’t enough to topple the Eastern Conference’s second-best team.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Led by DeMar DeRozan’s 38 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, Toronto outlasted Miami 112-104 at the Air Canada Centre.
DeRozan scored 17 points between the fourth quarter and overtime to help clinch it for the Raptors, who won three of four against the Heat this season and improved to 26-7 at home, the fifth-best home record in the league.
“It’s tough,” said Johnson, whose 28 points were the most he’s had for the Heat this season. “We put ourselves in position, man, to win that ballgame. [Deng] hitting the big three at the end of regulation, we felt we had a breath of fresh air. We just couldn’t come up with the plays down the stretch.
“It’s tough because [DeRozan] just kept running the pick and roll. He was making the tough shots. The whistle went his way tonight.”
Johnson made nine of his first 12 shots, including three three-pointers, on his way to the team-high 28 points. But he missed seven of his last nine shots — including a step-back three-pointer with 16.9 seconds left in overtime — and the Heat (38-28) couldn’t catch Toronto (44-20).
Deng, who finished with 20 points and four rebounds, hit a corner three-pointer on a pass from Johnson with 3.1 seconds left in regulation that tied the game at 97 and forced overtime. But he finished 7 of 18 from the field.
“They fought,” Wade said. “Those guys fought against a very good team, and we had a chance to win. That’s all we can ask for.”
With the loss, the Heat is now a full game back of the Celtics (39-27) for third in the East. Miami will host the Nuggets (27-38) on Monday before welcoming red-hot Charlotte on Thursday night and No. 1-seeded Cleveland next Saturday. The Hornets, winners of seven in a row, are only a half-game behind the Heat for the fourth seed in the East.
Goran Dragic, who posted a season-high 26 points in the win over Chicago, started hot for the Heat in the first quarter. But he finished 5 of 18 from the field and had 13 points, seven rebounds and nine assists..
Hassan Whiteside had 13 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks off the bench in 33 minutes.
Miami trailed by as many as nine points early in the third quarter before Gerald Green and Amar’e Stoudemire started hitting shots late in the quarter to rally Miami.
Counting his 0-for-5 start in the first half, Green had missed 39 of his previous 49 shots dating to Feb. 20 (20.4 percent) before he buried a three-pointer to put the Heat up 67-65 with 1:53 to go in the third quarter. It was Green’s only made basket on nine attempts in 22 minutes.
Stoudemire, held without a rebound in 15 minutes Friday in Chicago, picked up three offensive rebounds in a span of about two minutes and hit a putback to give the Heat a 71-67 lead with 48.6 seconds left in the period. But his buzzer-beater that would have given the Heat a three-point lead entering the fourth was waved off.
Miami’s slow defensive start — a theme on this three-game road trip — continued Saturday.
The Raptors shot 63.2 percent, scored 18 points in the paint and led the Heat 28-24 after one quarter. DeRozan extended that lead to 53-46 at the half with 17 points over the first two quarters.
Despite the loss, the Heat is returning home feeling as if it has grown as a team.
“They are a very good team,” Deng said. “There is a reason why they have a good record. But I think early in the season that would have been a different game, an easy game for them, and that just shows how much better we’ve gotten. We’ll take a positive out of it and just keep getting better.”