Heat 92, Raptors 89
MIAMI (AP)—Until the final seconds, James Posey’s night on offense was one to forget. He missed eight of nine shots, not even including a fourth-quarter dunk attempt that went awry and was scored as a turnover.
Yet in those deciding moments, Posey sealed the Miami Heat’s most important win of the season.
He was 4-for-4 from the line and grabbed two crucial defensive rebounds in the last 18.9 seconds, ensuring that the Heat would hold off the Toronto Raptors 92-89 on Tuesday night, a victory that pushed Miami past Washington and back into first place in the Southeast Division.
“I felt comfortable despite how I played from the field,” said Posey, who had a game-high 13 rebounds and a team-best five assists to go with his six points. “I dream about those situations. For the most part, in my dream, I come through.”
This was no dream, but fortunately for the Heat, he delivered. Miami clinched a 2-1 win in the season-series with Toronto, meaning if the teams finish with identical records, the Heat would get the tiebreaker edge that could prove vital when deciding home-court advantage for the opening playoff round.
Shaquille O’Neal had 16 points and 12 rebounds, Udonis Haslem added 16 points, and Eddie Jones and Jason Williams each scored 14 points for Miami, which held Toronto to 38 percent shooting and survived being outscored 46-36 after halftime.
“Second half, did not play well. Played hard, but did not play well,” Heat coach Pat Riley said. “Missed a lot of shots in the second half but for the most part, did enough. Dodged a few bullets from them down the stretch. We simply had to gut it out and we did. It’s a huge win for us.”
Chris Bosh had 24 points and 11 rebounds for the Raptors, who trailed by as many as 15 in the first half and were down 56-43 at intermission. But they chipped away steadily, had a chance when T.J. Ford’s long and potentially game-tying 3-pointer rimmed out with 2.9 seconds left, and the clock ran out.
“We got the ball to the people we want to get the ball to and sometimes you win them and sometimes you come up short,” Toronto coach Sam Mitchell said. “We got the things we were looking for, so I have no complaints.”
The Heat led by 10 early in the fourth and saw that margin whittled to one in the final moments, and finished with no field goals in the final 3:45. But the Raptors missed seven of their final nine shots, including two misses by Ford, who finished with seven assists but shot 2-for-13.
“It was just a rough night all along,” Ford said.
Miami led by 10 after Antoine Walker’s 3-pointer with 10:30 left, but the Raptors made a late move. They got within two twice, with the Heat getting baskets by Williams and O’Neal to restore a four-point margin both times, the last coming with 3:46 left to put Miami up 88-84.
It stayed that way for three full minutes, until Bosh’s three-point play with 44 seconds left drew the Raptors within one. Williams missed a 3-pointer with 28 seconds remaining and the rebound bounced off the Heat 2.9 seconds later — giving Toronto a full shot clock and a chance to win.
Instead, Toronto went quickly, giving Ford a chance in the lane. His 12-footer bounced off the rim, Posey got the rebound, was fouled with 17 seconds left, and his two free throws gave Miami a 90-87 edge.
Jackson drove and dunked with 8.3 seconds left, but Posey hit another pair from the line with 7.6 to play to restore the three-point margin, then scrambled for the final rebound after Ford’s 3-pointer just missed.
“He made a bunch of hustle plays for us,” Riley said.
The Heat got a long-awaited boost when Jason Kapono—playing in his first game since spraining his ankle four weeks ago—hit his first three shots, including a 3-pointer, and finished with seven points.
“We just needed to win tonight,” Kapono said.
Toronto outrebounded Miami by a season-most 18 in its home win over the Heat last week; Miami prevailed 48-39 on the backboards Tuesday. … Toronto’s magic number for clinching the Atlantic Division remained at three over idle New Jersey. … O’Neal was 5-for-5 from the field in the first half, but 0-for-6 from the foul line.