Heat beat Raptors to extend win streak
TORONTO—Miami’s record-setting win steak continued where it started thanks to an inspiring speech from Heat veteran Shane Battier.
The 34-year-old forward delivered a rousing team speech the night Miami started its streak in Toronto with victory Feb 3—and delivered another one yesterday after the Heat downed the Raptors 108-91 to win their 22nd-consecutive game.
“We found it fitting for him to give us another speech tonight after the game,” said Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra.
“I didn’t say a word to him; just brought us together and Shane took it from there.
“Coach [Pat] Riley gets paid close to six figures for his speeches,” Spoelstra added.
“I don’t know what Shane should charge now, but he should get something.”
Dwyane Wade had 24 points and nine assists while Chris Bosh chipped in 18 points for the Heat (51-14), who matched the 2007-08 Houston Rockets at 22 and now trail just the 1971-72 L.A. Lakers (33).
Miami moved ahead of the 1970-71 Bucks (20) on Friday—fittingly in Milwaukee.
“We’re doing it together,” said James. “We’re doing it for one another, and just want to try and keep it going.
“It’s not about the streak,” he stressed. “It’s about us getting better each and every day.
“Preparing to win each and every night.”
It was another Miami veteran making a difference on the court yesterday as sharpshooter Ray Allen scored 14 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter as Miami pulled away.
Rudy Gay led Toronto (26-41) with 27 points while Amir Johnson pulled down 18 boards to go with 18 points.
Jonas Valanciunas also had 18 points, with DeMar DeRozan adding 12.
Toronto opened the fourth with Johnson dunking to make it a one-point game as the green-clad Air Canada Centre crowd erupted.
Minutes later, Wade wowed with an alley-oop off a lob that came from half-court. And that seemed to ignite the Heat as Miami went on a 8-0 run to make it 89-77 at 7:42.
Allen led the late drive with two at the line and two-straight from downtown as Miami controlled the game down the stretch with an 21-point lead with five minutes left to play and never stumbled.
“I guess we ran out of gas,” said Johnson, who left late in the fourth with bloodied nose.
“We turned it up in the third,” he noted. “It seemed like we went back to third in fourth and that’s when they made their run.
“Ray Allen just killed us with those threes,” Johnson added.
“With a team like that, we just have to play energized because they have so many weapons they can use.”
Before the game, Raptors’ coach Dwane Casey preached the importance of taking care of the ball. But Toronto committed seven turnovers in the first quarter that Miami converted into nine points.
“In the first half, we were feeling our way into the game,” noted Casey. “I thought we played well in the second half. . . .
“We got the game within striking distance, but we have to sustain that focus on both ends of the floor,” he stressed.
Miami will attempt a 23rd-straight win in the unfriendly confines of Boston’s TD Garden tonight against the Celtics.
Houston’s streak in 2007-08 came to an end at the hands of the Celtics.
The Raptors next play Wednesday in Charlotte before returning home to face the N.Y. Knicks on Friday.
Elsewhere in the NBA, Minnesota nipped New Orleans 97-95, Milwaukee beat Orlando 115-109, the L.A. Clippers downed New York 93-80, and Golden State dumped Houston 108-78.
Oklahoma City upended Dallas 107-101, Atlanta beat Brooklyn 105-93, and the L.A. Lakers bounced Sacramento 113-102.