Toronto beat the expansion Charlotte Bobcats 103-92 on Sunday for its fifth win in a row on its home court and fourth in five games overall.
The Raptors, who have won 10 of their last 11 at Air Canada Centre, haven’t won six consecutive home games since an eight-game winning streak to end the 2001-02 season.
Jalen Rose continued his strong play as a reserve Sunday by scoring 14 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter, including 12 during a pivotal 19-4 run, as the Raptors outscored the Bobcats 26-12 in the final period.
The 10-year veteran has played better since being removed from the Raptors’ starting lineup 15 games ago. The disgruntled forward, who is rumored to be on the trading block, went 8-of-15 from the field against Charlotte and is shooting 50.5 percent from the field since he became a reserve. He shot 42 percent as a starter.
“Jalen is always going to talk about starting. I understand that,” Toronto coach Sam Mitchell said. “But the firepower he gives us coming off the bench is just something we need.”
Rose hasn’t felt appreciated by the Raptors ever since his name came up in trade talks in November. He thinks they just want to dump his contract, which has three years and $48 million left on it.
“It’s their call. If they want to keep me around I’ll be here. If they want to ship me out I’ll call U-Haul,” said Rose, who leads the Raptors in scoring with 15.7 points per game.
Toronto is 15-5 at home this season, but one of those losses came to Miami. The Heat beat the Raptors 106-98 on Dec. 12 for their fourth straight victory at Air Canada Centre since an 81-80 loss on March 27, 2002.
Miami, however, comes into this contest with five losses in its last eight games after winning a franchise-record 14 straight contests and going 16-1 from Dec. 6-Jan. 7.
Shaquille O’Neal scored 24 points and Dwyane Wade had 17 points and 11 assists for the Heat Monday, but it wasn’t enough as they opened a three-game road trip with a 106-98 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Following the defeat, O’Neal challenged his teammates.
“We can’t keep playing like this,” he said. “I was telling the guys in the shower we have 40 games left and we need to go 30-10.”
STANDINGS (through Jan. 24): Heat - 1st place, Southeast Division. Raptors - 3rd place, 2 GB, Atlantic Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Heat - Wade, 23.7 ppg and 7.6 apg; O’Neal, 10.6 rpg. Raptors - Rose, 15.7 ppg; Bosh, 8.3 rpg; Alston, 7.2 apg.
SEASON SERIES: Tied, 1-1.
LAST MEETING: Dec. 12; Heat, 106-98. At Toronto, O’Neal had 20 points and Wade added 20 points, nine rebounds and six assists as the Heat won their fourth straight. Damon Jones had 16 points, including a key 3-pointer that gave Miami a 100-92 lead with 1:06 left.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Heat - 14-8 on the road; Raptors - 15-5 at home.
INJURIES: Heat - F Malik Allen (back); F Jerome Beasley (back); G-F Dorell Wright (abdominal strain). Raptors - F Lamond Murray (upper respiratory infection); F Donyell Marshall (wrist); C Alonzo Mourning (knee); F Pape Sow (knee); G Alvin Williams (knee).