Grant scored 16 points and added 10 rebounds, and the Heat held the Toronto Raptors scoreless for the final 2:54 in an 89-83 victory Tuesday night between two of the NBA’s worst teams.
Grant is assured of finishing the season averaging in double figures in both scoring and rebounding, a first in his eight-year career.
“He’s there every night,” Heat coach Pat Riley said. “He might not play well every night, and that’s when he gets frustrated and he gets out of himself. But he’s definitely been our most valuable player this year.”
It almost appeared that neither team wanted to win down the stretch. Tied at 83 with just under three minutes left, neither team scored again until Anthony Carter’s driving layup gave the Heat a two-point lead with 33 seconds left.
Carter was surprised to find the lane left open for an uncontested bucket.
“With the game on the line on the last play, for the lane to be that open, somebody did something wrong,” Carter said. “I had some nice screens. I guess they thought I was going to pass the ball. I’m just that kind of guy. They expected me to pass, and I took it straight to the basket.”
Alvin Williams missed an open jumper that would have tied the game, and Butler knocked down two free throws with 21 seconds left to give Miami an 87-83 lead.
“We kept scrapping,” Grant said. “In the first half, our defense was pitiful. We talked about making a better commitment, about really defending after that.”
The Raptors dropped their third straight game.
Toronto struggled in the second half, putting up just 31 points and shooting 27 percent from the floor.
“We worked hard, but we made mistakes,” Raptors coach Lenny Wilkens said. “We played decent, but things just didn’t go our way. We were a little anxious with our shooting. We shot well in the first half, but our percentage really fell off after that.”
Miami put together a strong third quarter, rallying from a 52-45 halftime deficit for a 72-70 lead. The Heat opened the quarter with an 8-0 run, and Vladimir Stepania’s layup with 15 seconds left gave them the lead going into the fourth quarter.
The Heat led 77-72, but the Raptors stayed close behind Jerome Williams’ three baskets. Toronto tied the game at 83 when Morris Peterson hit a 3-pointerwith 2:54 left.
The Raptors, who haven’t had a full 12-man roster all season, were without starters Vince Carter (ankle) and Antonio Davis (knee and groin), plus backup Voshon Lenard (bruised knee) to injuries. … Grant has played in all 79 games for the Heat this season. … Caron Butler tied Sherman Douglas for the top single-season scoring total for a Heat rookie. Butler has scored 1,155 points, which Douglas did in 1990. … The Heat took a 3-0 lead in the season series, with one more game set for April 15. … The Raptors shot 63 percent in the first quarter. … The Heat have faced double-digit deficits in each oftheir last 10 games.