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Winderman’s view: Caleb Martin again makes you notice, an encouraging sign in Heat win

Observations and other notes of interest from Wednesday night’s 112-103 victory over to the Toronto Raptors:

– There are times when numbers can be empty calories.

– Particularly first-half numbers.

– But for Caleb Martin, this was different.

– His 23 first-half points not only already were a season single-game scoring high, but rekindled visions of what he showed in last season’s Eastern Conference finals.

– The Heat need that Martin, as they sort through starting options at power forward.

– And Martin needs that Martin, with free agency looming at season’s end.

– In the wake of offseason knee pain that had him out at the start of the season, Martin had played with hesitancy.

– This time, in the first half, he just played.

– No, it wasn’t sustained.

– But small steps.

– And this was, at the least, that.

– Once Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro return, this is the Martin the Heat needed.

– Perhaps as the starting power forward.

– With his rebounding required and provided Wednesday.

– Until Wednesday there had been teases.

– This time something more substantive.

– With Adebayo (knee), Herro (ankle) and Highsmith sidelined, it had the Heat with their 14th starting lineup in their 21 games this season.

– Orlando Robinson started at center in place of Adebayo for the second consecutive game.

– Martin opened in place of Highsmith, his first start of the season.

– Rounding out the Heat starting lineup were Jimmy Butler, Kyle Lowry and Duncan Robinson.

– Duncan Robinson extended his streak of games with at least one 3-pointer to 19. He has had two previous 20-game such streaks in his career. The franchise record is 28 games in a row by Tim Hardaway in 1998-99.

– Lowry’s first 3-point attempt was the 5,750th of his career.

– Robinson made his first two 3-point attempts to improve to 6 of 6 from beyond the arc for the season.

– Inactive for the Heat were Adebayo, Herro, Dru Smith, R.J. Hampton and Cole Swider, with Highsmith active but not available.

– The Raptors. by comparison, who are largely healthy, opening with a lineup of  OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Jakob Poeltl, Scottie Barnes and Dennis Schröder.

– Kevin Love and Jaime Jaquez Jr. again entered together as the Heat’s first two reserves.

– Jaquez’s fourth basket was the 100th of his career.

– Jaquez now has scored in double figures in eight in a row and 13 of his last 14.

– Josh Richardson followed.

– And then somewhat surprisingly – and briefly – Nikola Jovic.

– The Heat’s franchise-record streak of nine consecutive 30-point quarters came to an end when they scored 27 in the second period. The Heat previously had never scored at least 30 in more than five consecutive quarters.

– Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said the break before Wednesday allowed the Heat to somewhat reset.

– “The last two days have been good just to recalibrate, rally around each other and focus on some of the finer details that you don’t always get the opportunity to drill and work and have a good practice on,” he said.

– Lowry said while the Raptors have changed since his 2021 departure, including coach Nick Nurse moving on, there still are ample links to his Toronto past, including Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby.

– “It’s not gone,” he said. “You still got Pascal, you still got OG, you still got those guys that have been here.”

– “You still got some familiar faces. It’s different times. They’ve got a good coach, they’ve got a good culture. So it’s a good time to be a Toronto Raptors fan,” he said.

– Among the Raptors newcomers noted by Lowry was Schroder, who is coming off Germany’s World Cup gold.

– “Dennis is playing unbelievable,” Lowry said. “He’s continuing to do what he did in the World Cup. He’s kind of building it back.”

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