Miami Stays Hot With Win Over Raptors
Miami 101, Toronto 94
MIAMI, Feb. 27 (Ticker) -- All-Stars Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O'Neal have the Miami Heat playing their best basketball of the season.
Wade scored 32 points and O'Neal added 27 to lift the Heat to their season-high sixth straight win, a 101-94 victory over the Toronto Raptors.
"Dwyane and Shaq are playing really well right now," Miami coach Pat Riley said. "We pounded the ball down in the paint again."
Riley's reference was to the 72 points scored in the paint on the heels of Miami's franchise-high 84 paint points against Seattle on Saturday.
"That's our main focus right now," said Wade, who repeatedly attacks the basket. "We want to get the ball down low and drive it to the rim. That is what's working for us."
Trailing, 31-21, after one period, the Heat roared to a 53-48 lead at halftime. Wade scored 11 points in the second quarter and O'Neal added eight.
Toronto rallied to take a 77-74 lead after three quarters but had no answer for Wade or O'Neal down the stretch. Gary Payton gave Miami the lead for good, 85-82, with a 3-pointer with 8:38 to play and the Heat's dynamic duo made sure it stayed that way.
Mike James pulled Toronto within 88-87 with a 3-pointer with 6:35 left before the All-Stars took over. O'Neal scored six straight Miami points to make it 94-89 with 4:39 remaining. Wade had a steal and breakaway dunk to extend the lead to 98-91 a minute and a half later.
"He broke the game open on that (steal)," Riley said. "He stole it, made the cut without going out of bounds and was free for the dunk. That's amazing athleticism."
O'Neal had one of his best games of the season Saturday in a win over Seattle, going 15-of-16 from the floor and matching his campaign high with 31 points. On Monday, he was 11-of-16 from the field.
"It's all about making high-percentage shots," said O'Neal, who sank just 5-of-15 free throws. "We want to keep getting the ball inside for timely baskets. We would have won by 20 if I weren't messing around at the line."
Entering the game averaging 29.6 points this month, Wade was 15-of-19 from the field for Miami (36-20), which moved a season-best 16 games above .500.
"We got it done at both ends of the court in that fourth quarter," Riley said. "That's the type of effort we need night in and night out."
James scored 26 points and Chris Bosh and Morris Peterson each added 19 for Toronto.
"It was disappointing because we had a chance to win, but I didn't make plays," said James, whose NBA career began in Miami. "It isn't me against Miami, it's about playing the game the right way."
Toronto coach Sam Mitchell said James played well but the team as a whole couldn't get it done down the stretch.
"I think our guys wore down. I had to play Chris (Bosh), Mike (James) and Mo (Peterson) a lot of minutes and that probably hurt them in the fourth quarter," Mitchell said.
"We're trying to do the right things but they were hitting shots and we weren't," James said. "It is all about execution and they executed well."