LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Fred VanVleet made another case for a big payday later this year
VanVleet scored a career-high 36 points and made seven 3-pointers, and the defending NBA champion Toronto Raptors added to their strong restart with a 107-103 victory over the Miami Heat on Monday.
VanVleet, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent after the season, finished 7 of 12 from beyond the 3-point arc and was a perfect 13 of 13 from the foul line, topping his 34-point total against the Pelicans last December.
The 26-year-old VanVleet is in the midst of a two-year, $18 million contract, but figures to cash in this coming offseason after helping the Raptors win a championship and then following that up with another strong season in which he's averaging 17.5 points and 6.7 rebounds.
Pascal Siakam added 22 points and Kyle Lowry had 14 points and eight rebounds for the Raptors, who improved to 2-0 in the bubble. Toronto resumed its season by beating the Lakers and remains in second place in the Eastern Conference.
Goran Dragic had 25 points for the Heat.
Miami beat Toronto twice this season, but the Raptors avoided the season sweep behind VanVleet, who poured in deep 3s and repeatedly found his way to the foul line in the third quarter with strong drives.
The Raptors led by 17 midway through the third quarter before the Heat pulled ahead on Dragic's corner 3 with 10:11 remaining in the game. The Raptors regained command when Serge Ibaka, who had 15 points, added two dunks on back-to-back possessions.