TORONTO, March 27 (Ticker) --
For the second straight game, the
Toronto Raptors survived a frantic finish at the Air Canada
Centre to keep alive their slim playoff hopes.
Maurice "Mo" Peterson
hit the go-ahead layup with 8.4 seconds left and
missed an attempted game-winning jumper from just
inside the arc as the Raptors edged the Miami Heat, 81-80.
After Rod Strickland
gave Miami a 78-77 lead on a 3-pointer
with 3:14 to go, Keon Clark
responded with a reverse layup 24
seconds later to give the Raptors a one-point advantage.
hit a pair of free throws to put Miami on top,
80-79. Neither team could score before Peterson banked his shot over Mourning's outstretched arm after a feed from Alvin Williams
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With 19 points and 10 boards, AD (Antonio Davis), recorded his sixth double-double in nine games.
"The original play was set up for Antonio (Davis)
to get the
ball, but their defense caused that to break down," Peterson
said. "I just decided to go backdoor on them. The play really
wasn't drawn up that way. When the ball went into the basket, I
didn't know at first because I hit the ground so hard."
"I wanted Mo on the wing to be the trigger man," Raptors coach
Lenny Wilkens said. "Miami overplayed the play and Mo went
backdoor. He went on his own instinct. The last part of the
play wasn't diagrammed because Miami broke it down. We've been
preaching all year to go backdoor when that happpens. You have
to give Alvin and Mo all the credit for recognizing the play."
Following a timeout, Jackson took a pass from Strickland and
cleared space from Williams with a head fake, but his shot
bounced off the rim. Clark tipped the ball out of harm's way,
and although Mourning collected the rebound, he could not get a
shot off before the buzzer sounded.
"I thought for sure I had made the shot," Jackson said. "I
pump-faked Alvin in the air past me and had a clear look. After
I released it, I think I landed on one of the Raptors' feet,
but I don't really remember exactly what happened."
After remaining on the ground for a minute in obvious pain
after the game ended, Jackson limped off the court with
assistance from his teammates. He has a sprained right ankle
and will be re-evaluated Thursday.
On Sunday, the Raptors defeated Washington, 92-91, as Michael
missed a fadeaway jumper at the buzzer.
Peterson tallied 21 points, Davis 19 and 10 rebounds and Jerome
18 and 10 for the Raptors, who won their third
straight game since losing All-Star Vince Carter to
season-ending arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.
Toronto (33-38) moved into a tie with Washington for ninth
place in the Eastern Conference, 2 1/2 games behind Indiana for
the eighth and final playoff spot.
Strickland had a season-high 24 points, Mourning added 17 and
14 rebounds and Brian Grant
15 and 10 for the Heat (31-39), who
have lost four in a row. They are four games behind Indiana
(35-35) and 1 1/2 games behind Toronto and Washington with 12
games to go.
"It was a hard loss, a really hard loss," Heat coach Pat Riley
said. "I thought we'd had three or four open shots in the last
two minutes and we couldn't get them to go. Except for the
Peterson shot, I don't think they had a basket in the last
three minutes. We did everything we needed to do but win."
Toronto jumped out to a 28-20 lead after one quarter and held
its biggest advantage at 35-24 early in the second. But Miami
closed to within 44-43 at the half and took a 61-60 lead into
the fourth quarter.
Miami never led by more than two points.
Despite shooting 45 percent (33-of-74) and holding Toronto to
41 percent (31-of-75), the Heat committed 20 turnovers, which
the Raptors converted into 26 points. Miami only scored 14
points off 16 Toronto turnovers.
"Our defense won the game tonight," Jerome Williams said. "We
had almost 20 turnovers and a lot of them were because we
pressured them. You especially have to give Mo Pete credit
because he held their leading scorer (Eddie Jones)
to just two
Hounded by Peterson, Jones made just 1-of-5 shots in 38 minutes.
Both teams shot poorly from the line. Toronto made 15-of-24
free throws and Miami was 9-of-18.
The Raptors' win was their third over the Heat in four games
this season. Toronto had never won a season series against
Miami since joining the league in 1995.
"Like I've been saying all along, when we execute on offense
and play tough defense like we did tonight, we will succeed,"
Davis said. "We aren't giving up on the season and we're still
fighting hard and responding to each other on the floor, and
that's why we've turned it around."