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A pair of Robinsons help guide shorthanded Heat past Raptors 112-103

TORONTO – This time, the track meet only lasted for the first two quarters.

And then a grind.

As seemingly always is the case when the Miami Heat play the Toronto Raptors.

So even after going up 15 in the first quarter, 14 in the third quarter and 10 early in the fourth, the Heat found themselves again fighting to the finish against the Raptors.

Having lost two of their previous three at a pace seemingly beyond their pedigree, the Heat this time stepped up defensively in the second half and got the halfcourt scoring needed in the fourth quarter to put it away in a 112-103 victory at Scotiabank Arena.

Playing in the injury absences of starters Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro and Haywood Highsmith, the Heat got across-the-board efforts, with several players dominating specific segments.

Forward Caleb Martin settled the offense early, closing with 24 points and 12 rebounds. Jimmy Butler scored when needed, finishing with 19 points. Jaime Jaquez Jr. sparked the bench with 15 points, and Duncan Robinson and Orlando Robinson played as closers.

Duncan Robinson closed with 21 points, seven assists, six rebounds. Orlando Robinson finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds.

Pascal Siakam led Toronto with 30 points, supported by 23 from OG Anunoby.

Five Degrees of Heat from Wednesday night’s game:

1. Closing time: The Heat raced to a 22-7 lead before closing the first period up 37-32, only to wind up down 66-64 at halftime, when their franchise-record streak of 30-point quarters ended after a 27-point second period.

The Heat then opened the third period with a 16-0 run that included Duncan Robinson’s first dunk since 2021-22. But the Raptors were just as strong as the close of the third, with the Heat going into the fourth up 87-84.

But after pushing to a double-digit lead early in the fourth, the Heat again found themselves in a clutch game, up five with five minutes to play and the lead then down to 97-94 with 3:56 left.

Eventually, a Duncan Robinson 3-pointer and a pair of Orlando Robinson baskets put the Heat up 104-96 with 2:12 to play, with a Duncan Robinson layup then making it 106-96 Heat with 1:43 left.

2. Starting revelation: With Adebayo and Highsmith out, the Heat opened with their 14th lineup in their 21 games, with Orlando Robinson starting in place of Adebayo at center, and with Martin starting in place of Highsmith at power forward. That was with Duncan Robinson again starting in place for Herro, as he has for the past month.

With the Heat staying smaller with Martin in place of Highsmith, Martin provided the needed spacing in such an alignment with a 3-of-4 start on 3-pointers, helping the Heat to an initial 14-5 lead. The Heat’s first five baskets were 3-pointers, before Martin ended that run with a driving layup.

3. And keeps going: Martin closed the first quarter with 15 points and was up to 23 at halftime, the highest-scoring half of his career.

Martin’s previous season high was 22 points, which he eclipsed with  7:29 left in the second period, up to 14 shots at halftime,

He then slowed, with only one point in the third.

His career high remains was 28 points on Dec. 8, 2021 against the Milwaukee Bucks.

4. Robinson and Robinson: In the absence of Adebayo and Herro, a pair of Robinson provided needed compensation.

Both played with confidence in the final period, with Orlando taking his play to the paint and Robinson again mixing and matching his shooting and cutting.

Both played as closer, and as exactly what the Heat needed after Martin cooled with his play.

Duncan Robinson finished 9 of 19 from the field, Orlando Robinson 5 of 9.

5. Jovic sighting: Nikola Jovic received his first playing time in four games in only his second appearance since Oct. 30, entering with 6:19 left in the second period.

Unlike previous outings, he entered at power forward instead of center, with Orlando Robinson already in the game.

Jovic’s stint lasted 3:18, scoreless with two rebounds and two fouls, before being replaced by Martin.

The only available Heat players not to see action were Jamal Cain and Thomas Bryant.

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