Barnes' career-high 12 assists helps Raptors beat Heat, inch closer to 7-seed
TORONTO — The Miami Heat's defence kept opening up for Scottie Barnes, either for an incisive pass or a scoring opportunity, and he took full advantage.
Barnes earned a double-double with 22 points and a career-high 12 assists as the Toronto Raptors earned a 106-92 victory over Miami on Tuesday. Barnes also had seven rebounds in a win that buoyed Toronto's post-season hopes.
"Every game is different, teams play defence differently," said Barnes. "Today I was just finding reads, making plays.
"Everybody was in the right spots and people were making shots."
Pascal Siakam just missed out on a double-double of his own with 26 points and nine rebounds as the Raptors (38-38) won their third-straight game. Barnes said that having Siakam on the court makes his job easier as a playmaker.
"He draws a lot of attention," said Barnes. "Of course, he scores the ball really well, but he also has a high IQ to be able to pass out of the double teams when he sees them coming very early.
"So he draws a lot of attention so it just creates for everybody else."
The Raptors sit ninth in the tightly packed East standings, two games back of sixth-place Miami. The sixth through 10th places in the conference advance to the play-in portion of the NBA's post-season.
Toronto is 26-14 at home this season, but the Raptors embark on a five-game road trip Friday as the regular-season winds down.
"We want to go out there, have fun, play the game with a sense of urgency, follow the game plan and do everything that we can," said Siakam about the road trip. "Leave it all on the floor to give ourselves a chance to win all these games."
Tyler Herro scored 33 for Miami (40-36), which was without all-star forward Jimmy Butler, who missed the game with a sore neck.
Bam Adebayo had a double-double with 21 points and 12 rebounds and former Raptors guard Kyle Lowry had six points and five rebounds coming off the bench for the Heat.
Miami is a half game back of Brooklyn in the standings, but the Nets hold the tiebreaker after winning the season series.
"Every loss right now is tough," said guard Victor Oladipo. "Obviously, it’s a tight situation in the race in the East.
"Every loss is tough but it’s about figuring it out so we’ve just got to figure it out."
Barnes picked Oladipo's pocket and drove to the next for a breakout slam dunk in the dying seconds of the first quarter to give Toronto a 24-23 lead. Barnes led all scorers with 12 points in the first 12 minutes of play.
Another Barnes dunk with 3:51 left in the half gave the Raptors a three-point lead and forced Miami to take a timeout. Toronto outscored the Heat 10-7 when play resumed for a 53-47 lead at intermission.
An 11-1 run early in the third helped the Raptors build a 16-point lead 5:26 into the quarter. A driving layup by Toronto guard Fred VanVleet extended that lead to 19 and brought the 19,800 fans at Scotiabank Arena to their feet with 3:08 left in the quarter. The Raptors held an 84-67 lead heading into the fourth.
Precious Achiuwa drained a three-pointer a little over a minute into the final quarter to improve Toronto's shooting from beyond the arc to 5-for-28 on the night.
The Raptors previous three-point shooting low this season was 19.6 per cent (9/46) in a 104-101 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Jan. 4.
Back-to-back three-pointers from Achiuwa and O.G. Anunoby and a late three from VanVleet helped Toronto avoid a worse shooting percentage from beyond the arc, finishing at 22.2 per cent (8/36).
HURT RAPTORS — The Raptors announced before the game that guards Gary Trent Jr. (right elbow stiffness) and Will Barton (left ankle sprain) as well as forward Joe Wieskamp (right hamstring strain) were out of the lineup.
UP NEXT — The Raptors visit the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday at 7 p.m. ET.
Miami travels to Manhattan to face the New York Knicks on Wednesday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 28, 2023.