The other side of .500 will have to wait until at least Sunday night, against the emerging Cleveland Cavaliers.

Because prosperity has proved to have limits this season for the Miami Heat.

At .500 for the first time after extending their win streak to three with a Monday night home win over the Phoenix Suns, the Heat are once again south of that milestone, falling to 7-8 after a 112-104 Wednesday night loss to the Toronto Raptors at Scotiabank Arena.

After eliminating Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro, the Heat lacked the firepower and power play to compete with the Raptors roster, which was also limited.

Even an early spark picked by Nikola Jovic from the first round couldn’t stop the Heat’s streak from reaching a streak four, ending with Toronto’s 21-0 scoring run in the third quarter.

On the night, the Heat were able to take the best of Jimmy Butler, instead taking 13 points from their leader.

In his second return to Toronto, Kyle Lowry had 19 points for the Heat, who also scored 20 from Max Strus, 16 from Gabe Vincent, 14 from Caleb Martin and 13 from Jovic, who made his first NBA start.

The Raptors were led by OG Anunoba’s season-high 32 points and Fred VanVleet’s 23.

The Heat’s four-game journey continues with Friday’s game against the Washington Wizards, Sunday’s game in Cleveland, and then Monday’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Five degrees of heat from Wednesday’s game:

1. Closing time: The Heat were leading 31-27 at the end of the first quarter and 60-54 at halftime, going into the fourth quarter with an 84-79 drop.

The Raptors then moved up 10 at 7:58, but the Heat crawled to 102-100 at 3:52, playing on the Strus jumper, setting up another strong finish.

From there, a Chris Boucher dunk gave Toronto a high-five with 2:03 left, and Boucher’s 3-pointer extended Toronto’s lead to 110–102 with 1:29 left.

The Heat closed with a small lineup with no center at the finish line on a night where they struggled badly on the boards and took second chance points.

The Raptors rebounded the Heat 42-23 and took second chance points 26-5.

2. Worst Times: When Butler converted a dunk at 8:52 by the end of the third period, he gave the Heat a 70-69 lead.

They did not score again until 1:34 remained in the quarter, thanks to Vincent’s three-pointer, and Toronto made it 21-0 at half-time.

Yes, seven minutes and 18 seconds without a point.

The Raptors’ growth included five of the Heat’s 19 turnovers over three quarters.

Anunoby and Scottie Barnes scored 28 of Toronto’s 30 points in the third quarter for a combined 11-of-17.

3. Back: The game was Lowry’s second in Toronto since moving to the Heat in 2021 as free agency after nine seasons with the Raptors.

While it wasn’t as emotional a night as last season’s comeback, Lowry said it still matters.

“It’s always great to come home, it’s always great to be here, it’s always great to be in the city,” he said. “I don’t think it gets any easier. I think you’ll feel a little more comfortable. Last year was definitely full of butterflies.”

Lowry received a warm ovation when he was introduced as the last of the Heat’s starters.

He closed 6 of 9 from the field, but only had two assists.

4. Jovic starts: With Adebayo out and Dewayne Dedmon struggling with plantar fasciitis in his left foot, rookie Nikola Jovic made his first NBA start after only his fifth NBA appearance.

The 19-year-old Serbia first-rounder played 24 minutes before Wednesday. He became the Heat’s youngest starter in the team’s 35 seasons, passing when Herro also made his debut at the age of 19.

Jovic scored seven of the Heat’s first 12 points, opening 3-for-3, including a 3-pointer. He had 11 points when he checked out for the first time, with 4:09 by the end of the opening period in favor of Dedmon.

Dedmon was listed as a doubt earlier in the day, having missed the previous two games with the ailment.

Ostrich took off again instead of Herro.

The Heat’s starting five, consisting of Jovic, Strus, Butler, Lowry and Martin, have yet to play together this season.

5. Five outputs: The Heat were without the ailing Adebayo, Herro, Victor Oladipo and Omer Yurtseven, while Udonis Haslem left the match for personal reasons.

Adebayo was a bit late, the Heat didn’t announce he would be sitting with a bruise on his knee until after the morning’s shootout.

“He had a knee injury two or three games ago,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, “and like a lot of guys he tends to hit the same spot every game. He managed to finish the game [Monday against the visiting Phoenix Suns] and it’s just very sore today. It will be from day to day.”

As for Oladipo, the only one of the sidelined five to travel, there was one more energetic scoring session before the game with assistant coach Anthony Carter.


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