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(Monday, March 31st)
Final Score: Miami 93, Toronto 83
Miami, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - With LeBron James' 32 points leading the way, the Miami Heat continued their recent dominance of the Toronto Raptors with a 93-83 win that also placed the defending NBA champions back atop the Eastern Conference.
James added eight assists and seven rebounds in the victory -- Miami's 15th straight over Toronto -- with ex-Raptor Chris Bosh contributing 18 points and Chris Andersen lending 13 for a Heat team again playing without stars Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen.
With Indiana routed by red-hot San Antonio on Monday, the Heat (51-22) moved percentage points ahead of the Pacers (52-23) for first place in the East.
"Guys will look at the standings. I look at the standings. We're aware of it. It's not that we're naive to it. I didn't talk about it," Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said.
Greivis Vasquez paced Toronto with 17 points and DeMar DeRozan had 16 in the loss, which halted the Atlantic Division leaders' three-game win streak. Jonas Valanciunas finished with a double-double for the Raptors, posting 14 points and 10 rebounds.
"We lost it in the third period. We came out too relaxed. We didn't attack the basket. Everything worked for them," Vasquez said.
The Heat trailed 42-32 midway through the second quarter, but closed the gap behind an 11-3 run in which James accounted for the final five points. The reigning league MVP kept on making plays over the remainder of the half, delivering baskets 28 seconds apart to forge a 49-49 tie late and sending Miami into the break owning a 54-51 edge with two free throws with 24.4 seconds left.
Miami then came out strong in the third quarter, opening the frame on a 7-0 spurt to extend the margin to 10 and later going up by a 71-57 count after James threw down a dunk with 3:56 remaining in the stanza that came on the heels of five straight points from Bosh.
The Raptors did put the outcome in doubt with an 8-0 stretch that Valanciunas completed with a short jumper that pulled Toronto within 78-75 with eight minutes to go. However, Miami pulled away via a 12-3 surge that resulted in a commanding 93-81 lead after James' 3-point play with 1:44 left.
Toronto had built its early double-digit advantage with a 19-5 stretch during the initial stages of the second quarter. Back-to-back 3-pointers from Vasquez and Steve Novak staked the Raptors to a 40-32 lead, which Valanciunas quickly extended with a powerful dunk on the following possession with 5:57 remaining in the half.
Wade (strained left hamstring) and center Greg Oden (sore back) both missed a third straight game, while Allen (stomach virus) sat out for a fourth consecutive contest ... James has averaged 31 points in the Heat's four wins over Toronto this season ... Heat guard Mario Chalmers returned to action after sitting two games with a bruised quadriceps and scored 12 points ... Novak finished with 13 points and went 4-of-6 from 3-point range ... The Raptors haven't topped Miami since Jan. 27, 2010, when Bosh was still with Toronto.
04/01 00:32:07 ET
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