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Heat keep on rolling, defeat Raptors for 22nd straight win

The SportsXchange

TORONTO -- 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 over the Raptors.

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 to lead all scorers 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."

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."

The Heat outscored Toronto 31-14 after Gay tied the game.

Though they were outclassed down the stretch, the Raptors found some solace knowing they were able to hang in with the defending champions for most of the game.

"They picked up their tempo in the fourth," said Gay. "I thought we matched it until then. Everybody played their part and I think this is something we can learn from."

DeMar DeRozan had just two points in the first half but came to life in the third quarter as the Raptors made things interesting heading into the fourth.

Toronto finished the third on a 7-0 run with DeRozan responsible for all the scoring, including a pull-up 17-foot jumper with the final possession of the quarter.

"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."

With the Heat up by eight points at the start of the second quarter, the teams traded baskets and there was little change to the Heat's advantage for the first few minutes.

The Heat then started to pull away and Wade hit a driving lay-up with 5:12 remaining to put Miami up by 16-points at 43-27.

With just under two-minutes remaining, Terrence Ross scored with a layup then a dunk on back-back possessions to reduce the deficit to 10 at 49-39. The Raptors would further close the gap to nine points before James hit a 3-pointer with the final shot of the half to put Miami up 55-43.

The Heat shot 57.9 percent in the first quarter and that allowed them to build up a 27-19 lead after the first.

NOTES: The Heat beat the Raptors 100-85 on Feb. 2 in Toronto. That win started their run of 21 games unbeaten that they took into Sunday's game in Toronto. ... Andrea Bargnani (right elbow sprain) is the only injured Raptors player. Quincy Acy is also inactive. ... The Heat don't have any players inactive due to injury. ... The Heat's 50-14 record is the best start through 64 games in franchise history. ... Toronto's 10-game losing streak to Miami is the team's longest active skid against an opponent. ... Sunday's game is the third and final meeting this season between the two teams.
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