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Miami: The Miami Heat were given a bit of a scare in the fourth quarter by the Toronto Raptors but were virtually unstoppable late and won their 22nd-consecutive game with a 108-91 win.
The Heat built up a 16-point lead in the first half, but the Raptors chipped away and tied the game early in the fourth quarter before Miami pulled away down the stretch.
Dwyane Wade had 24 points for Miami while LeBron James had 22. Rudy Gay and Amir Johnson were responsible for most of the Raptors scoring. Gay had 27 while Johnson had 18 to go along with 18 rebounds.
“It’s a special team,” said James of his team whose winning streak is now tied for the second longest streak in NBA history.
“It’s a special ride right now that we’re rolling and the best thing is we’re doing it together and we just want to keep it going.
“It’s not about the streak. It’s about us getting better every day,” added James, while talking to reporters.
Toronto tied the game at 77-77 when Gay hit a pair of free throws at 11:08 in the final quarter, but the Heat responded with 12-straight points, including a highlight-reel dunk from Wade off a half-court lob from Norris Cole. “You talk about a well-oiled machine, those guys are efficient both offensively and defensively,” said Raptors head coach Dwane Casey on how the Heat managed to find another gear when Toronto made the game close.
“They do it in a classy way. They are well put together. When you have special guys like (James) and Wade running your show, it makes it tough.”
Miami are now tied with the 2007-08 Houston Rockets in second place with 22 straight wins in the NBA.
Only the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers, who won 33 in a row, remain ahead of them.
“They were making some tough shots and I think that took a bit out of our spirit and toughness defensively,” said Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra on what happened to his team that allowed Toronto to make the game close.
“We dug in and decided to do it a little bit tougher, a little bit harder.”
Chris Paul scored 20 points and passed off eight assists to lead the Los Angeles Clippers over the injury-hit New York Knicks 93-80 yesterday in a matchup of contenders from opposite coasts.
Meanwhile, Caron Butler contributed 14 points while Blake Griffin scored 12 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for the Clippers, who won for the seventh time in their past 10 games to reach 46-21 and stretch their Pacific division lead.
JR Smith scored a team-high 17 points despite shooting 4-for-20 from the field while Raymond Felton added 16 points and nine assists for the Knicks, who were lacking All-Stars Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler with knee injuries.Agencies