Heat 102, Raptors 97

Walter Villa, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

MIAMI -- Rallying from a nine-point, third-quarter deficit, the Miami Heat earned a 102-97 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Sunday night in a battle of division leaders at the AmericanAirlines Arena.
Forward LeBron James led the Heat with 30 points. Forward Michael Beasley added 17 points off the Miami bench.
Beasley's output helped make up for lower-than-usual production from Heat guard Dwyane Wade (14 points) and forward Chris Bosh (eight points, 11 rebounds).
Toronto got a team-high 26 points from guard DeMar DeRozan. He was one of five Raptors who scored in double figures.
DeRozan's dunk pulled Toronto to within 96-95 with 1:04 left in the fourth quarter. Wade made two free throws with 23 seconds left to put Miami back up by three points.
Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas hit a layup with 17 seconds left to make the score 98-97. James hit two free throws, and Heat forward Udonis Haslem made a big block on Toronto guard Kyle Lowry, knocking the ball out of bounds.
Lowry got another chance but missed a 3-pointer off the front rim. James got the rebound and closed the win with two free throws.
The Southeast Division-leading Heat (26-8) improved their home record to 15-3, winning for the 10th time in their past 12 games.
Toronto, which leads the Atlantic Division at 16-16, had its five-game win streak snapped. Still, the Raptors are 9-4 since they traded forward Rudy Gay.
The teams played to a 29-29 draw in the first quarter. The Raptors shot 62.5 percent, which was only slightly better than the Heat's 60 percent.
Miami led 52-51 after a first half that featured 10 lead changes and seven tie scores. The shooting wasn't as good as the first period, but DeRozan had 18 points at the half, and James had 16.
For the half, the Raptors shot 55.6 percent, and the Heat shot 50 percent.
Toronto took a lead in the third quarter, outscoring Miami 33-27. Valanciunas went 4-for-4 in the quarter, scoring 10 points.
The Raptors, though, scored just two points in the first seven-plus minutes of the fourth quarter, allowing the Heat to retake the lead.
NOTES: Heat G Dwyane Wade, who missed eight games this season -- mostly as part of his knee-maintenance program -- decided to play Sunday. He also played Saturday night at Orlando. It was his first back-to-back games since Nov. 15-16. Right after that, though, he missed two straight games. ... Raptors F Tyler Hansbrough (knee) missed his second consecutive game. ... Heat F Shane Battier (strained quad) missed his second straight game. He was replaced in the starting lineup by F Rashard Lewis, who scored two points. ... The Raptors lost for just the second time in their past nine road games. ... Raptors coach Dwane Casey said his guards -- Demar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry -- "should be talked about" as All-Stars. ... Next up, the Heat host the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday, their final home game before playing five straight on the road. ... The Raptors play the Pacers on Tuesday at Indiana, completing successive road games against the top two teams in the Eastern Conference.

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