It wouldn’t go away.
The pest buzzed around Dwyane Wade, from the left ear to the right, as he tried to focus on a question about the mood of his Heat, following a 96-92 overtime loss to the Raptors in Game 2 of a second-round series. A loss, largely due to early sloppiness and late stagnation, that turned a potential road sweep into a split.
“Well, we had an opportunity, man,” Wade said. “First, that’s all you want. You want an opportunity to win on the road. You want to put yourself in great position. And we did that. Seven point lead going down the stretch, 77-70, you want to lock in right there. But they got back and took a one-point lead so fast, which was tough. But we had opportunities. I didn’t think overtime, we did a good job —”
This is where he stopped to swat.
“This mosquito is all on me,” he said.
Because the Heat, in this game, allowed the opponent to buzz around too long. And now, as a result, it may become an annoyance in this series.
What was supposed to be a putaway chance — grabbing a seemingly insurmountable 2-0 lead in the series before heading back for two games in South Florida — instead became the giveaway game, as Miami committed an unbelievable 11 turnovers in the first quarter alone, four from Wade and three from Goran Dragic, who was otherwise at his feisty best.
“If we don’t turn the ball over 20-something times, we’ll be fine,” Wade said. “(The) offense is fine. We can’t keep giving up 20 turnovers a game. That limits us a lot. It allows us to see their set defense a lot.”
Thursday’s 21 turnovers, following 20 on Tuesday, contributed to the Raptors taking 14 more field goals and 13 more free throws. That’s how you lose when you shoot better from every region of the floor, whether inside or outside the arc, or at the free throw line.
That’s what the Heat did, and that’s where there was no solace in this road split.
“We didn’t play well,” said Dragic, who led the team with 20 points, but lost more blood, this time not from losing a tooth but from his teeth slicing his lower lip as he took an elbow from DeMar DeRozan. “We had too many turnovers. I feel like, we come back, force the overtime, but we didn’t get good shots in overtime, and they took advantage of that.”
And this is why the Heat will beat itself up some, prior to Game 3 on Saturday.
The Raptors haven’t been very good. So if Miami had just focused offensively for a few more stretches Friday, the Raptors would be very gone.
The All-Star backcourt of DeRozan and Kyle Lowry combined to miss 30 of 46 shots from the field, and an embarrassing nine of 14 from the line. Lowry, after seeming to shrink from the action for a while, did stick two late jumpers, one from 17 feet with 45.9 seconds left in regulation and another from 20 feet with 14.9 seconds left, with the latter putting the Raptors ahead by three. But, after Dragic — taking a feed from a mistakenly doubled Joe Johnson — drained a game-tying three-pointer, Lowry settled for a difficult 28-foot attempt before the buzzer.
That missed, and Lowry had only one point in the overtime. The Raptors had nine others, however, as the Heat tallied just six, none until Luol Deng’s driving dunk after 4:37 of the five allotted minutes had already expired. It hardly helped that Joe Johnson, who had led Miami’s third quarter surge back from had been 14-point deficit with a series of glacial isolations that finished with silky floaters, had iced up.
Johnson missed all four of his shots in the fourth quarter.
Then he missed all four of his shots in the overtime.
“We had some cushion there in the fourth quarter and for whatever reason, we just kind of stopped executing offensively and defensively,” Johnson said. “Those guards have to come down and help the bigs rebound. We weren’t getting the rebounds. They were getting the 50-50 balls down the stretch.”
That’s why a 50-50 split in Toronto didn’t feel so good.
This was there for the taking. There if not for the early flurry of turnovers. There if not for Jonas Valanciunas regularly beating Hassan Whiteside to the boards in the fourth quarter, though Whiteside said he was responsible for accidentally tipping the ball into the Heat’s basket with 1:22 left. There if Johnson and Wade had done what they did in Tuesday’s overtime, which resulted in a victory.
So did Dragic, speech altered by a swollen lip — and mood soured by another call that he felt went unfairly against him — feel good about getting one of two here?
“Uh, no,” Dragic said. “Because we (felt) we could get both of those games. We definitely felt we should have won this game. It’s definitely a little bit of a bad taste in our mouth.”
With loud buzzing near their ears.