By Tim Reynolds
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
MIAMI _ The jerseys that the Miami Heat are wearing this week have a military theme and say “Home Strong” on the chest, a nod to the name of the program the team founded to honour soldiers at every game.
For the next few days, those words may as well be a mantra for the Heat.
Starting a seven-game homestand in style, the Heat got 23 points from Chris Bosh, 20 points and 11 rebounds from Hassan Whiteside and pulled away after halftime to beat the Toronto Raptors 96-76 on Sunday night.
“That was really inspiring basketball in the second half,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I think the second unit really sparked the energy of the entire team and everybody fed off that defensive energy.”
Miami outscored Toronto 30-16 in the third quarter, and after Toronto closed within seven in the fourth the Heat got an 18-3 Heat run fueled mainly by reserves to put the game away.
Dwyane Wade scored 12 points, Tyler Johnson had 10 and Whiteside finished with six blocks for Miami _ which had a sellout crowd for the 250th consecutive home game, including playoffs. The military-inspired uniforms replete with patriotic symbols will be worn again for home games on Tuesday and Thursday.
“They got into us defensively and made it tough for us,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “Their aggression in the third quarter changed the game.”
Jonas Valanciunas scored 17 for Toronto, which got 16 from DeMar DeRozan and 15 from Kyle Lowry. The Raptors lost for the 11th time in their last 12 trips to Miami.
“We turned the ball over a little too much and that got them out in transition,” DeRozan said.
Bosh has appeared against his former team for the 12th time. The Heat are 12-0 in those games, and Bosh lauded the play again of Miami’s second unit _ a clear strength for the Heat so far this season.
“They’re scrapping,” Bosh said. “And that’s what it’s about.”
Raptors: Toronto finished its four-game road trip 2-2. … Casey had a chance to get his Toronto record over the .500 mark. Instead, he’s now 159-160 with the club. … Lowry struggled with his shot again, going 4 for 16 and shooting under 40 per cent for the third consecutive game. … Delon Wright, the younger brother of former Heat F Dorell Wright, got into the game late in the fourth.
Heat: SG Gerald Green (undisclosed illness) remained away from the team, and the Heat said it had no comment about any aspect of his situation. Green was briefly hospitalized last week and has not been with the team since. … Tuesday could be Kobe Bryant’s 16th and final time playing at Miami, when the Lakers visit. He’s averaged 23.8 points in his 15 games at Miami, the Lakers going 4-11 in those contests.
WADE PASSES PIPPEN
Wade’s 3-pointer with 6:32 left in the third quarter gave him 10 points on the night and 18,942 in his career. He passed Scottie Pippen (18,940) for 51st place on the NBA’s scoring list.
Wade should be in the top 50 before long; Dale Ellis is next on the list with 19,004 points. Only five other players in NBA history _ Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, John Havlicek and Larry Bird _ have at least as many points, rebounds, assists and championship rings as Wade.
Toronto was without SF DeMarre Carroll, who sat to rest a sore right heel. Carroll played in each of Toronto’s first six games, but was shooting only 34 per cent _ 12 per cent worse than his career norm.
“It has affected his play, his jump shot and his defensive movement,” Casey said. “Getting him rest right now is the most important thing.”
James Johnson started in Carroll’s place. It was the first change Casey had made to his starters this season.
Raptors: Host New York on Tuesday.
Heat: Host the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday.