LeBron James scored 27 points while Dwyane Wade added 22 and the defending NBA Champions held off the Toronto Raptors 90-83 on Friday night, to extend its winning streak to a season-high nine games.
“These are the games when everything is going great for you and then it doesn’t,” Wade said. “How can you hold on through all the adversity, to continue to believe in the game plan and find a way to win. These are confidence-builders and also character-builders for teams.”
Ahead by 14 at halftime, the Heat extended the lead to 74-54 with 5 minutes 13 seconds left, but became stagnant, allowing the Raptors to go on a 16-4 run and pull within 83-81 on Rudy Gay’s put-back basket with 4:40 to go.
“The game is full of runs, we made ours and they made theirs,” James said. “At that point it’s how you counter that.”
The Heat regrouped with James nailing a 3-pointer from the corner. After Gay missed two free throws, James added a layup to wrap up Miami’s 13th consecutive victory over the Raptors.
“I told them afterward, we have to get better when we have leads over 15, to be able to close out and focus and maintain that same type of intensity,” Heat coach Erick Spoelstra said “If we want to be great we have to be on top of it all the time.”
DeMar DeRozan netted 25 points while Gay had 21 with 11 rebounds for the Raptors, (6-9), who remain atop the weak Atlantic Division despite a losing record.
Elsewhere: Oklahoma City Thunder 113, Golden State Warriors 112 (OT): Russell Westbrook buried a 3-pointer from the left corner with one-tenth of a second left in overtime, sending the Thunder past the Warriors for its sixth straight win.
Westbrook finished with a season-high 34 points, while Kevin Durant followed with 25 and 13 boards for the Thunder, which improved to 9-0 at home. Stephen Curry led the Warriors with 32 points and Harrison Barnes added a career-high 26.
- Charlotte Bobcats 92, Milwaukee Bucks 76: Al Jefferson had season-highs of 23 points with 12 rebounds, and the host Bobcats (8-9) sent the struggling Bucks (2-13) to their 11th consecutive loss.
- San Antonio Spurs 109, Orlando Magic 91: Tim Duncan and Marco Belinelli scored 19 points apiece, and the visiting Spurs (14-2) minus All-Star guard Tony Parker (ankle injury) beat the Magic, two nights after having their 11-game winning streak snapped.
- Boston Celtics 103, Cleveland Cavaliers 86: Jeff Green poured in 31 points, Jordan Crawford had his third career triple-double with 11 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, as the Celtics crushed the visiting Cavaliers.
- Atlanta Hawks 88, Dallas Mavericks 87: Al Horford hit a 20-foot jumper with 4.2 seconds left to cap a 17-point, 12-rebound effort, and the Hawks stormed from 17 down in the second half, to edge the visiting Mavericks.
- LA Lakers 106, Detroit Pistons 102: Wesley Johnson scored 27 points and Nick Young drew an offensive foul on Josh Smith with two seconds remaining, as the visiting Lakers rallied from 10 down in the final quarter, to slip past the Pistons for their fifth win in the last six games.
- Houston Rockets 114, Brooklyn Nets 95: Chandler Parsons fired in 21 points, including six of Houston’s 19 triples, and the Rockets shot past the visiting Nets for the 14th straight time in their series.
- Indiana Pacers 93, Washington Wizards 73: Paul George poured in 23 points and the Pacers extended their franchise best-start to 15-1 with their sixth straight victory after whipping the visiting Wizards.
- LA Clippers 104, Sacramento Kings 98 (OT) Jamal Crawford had a season-high 31 points, 11 assists, seven rebounds and the short-handed Clippers closed the overtime on a 10-0 run, to slip past the Kings.
Blake Griffin added 21 points and 12 assists, while DeAndre Jordan finished with 10 points, 15 rebounds and a career-high nine blocks for the Clippers, playing without All-Star point guard Chris Paul because of a right hamstring strain.
- New Orleans Pelicans 121, Philadelphia 76ers 105: Ben Gordon dropped in 26 points, Jrue Holiday added 20 with 13 assists and seven rebounds in his first game in Philadelphia since being traded last summer, as the Pelicans blasted the Sixers.
- Denver Nuggets 97, New York Knicks 95: Ty Lawson scored 22 points, Randy Foye blocked Carmelo Anthony’s potential game-tying jumper at the buzzer against his former team, and the Nuggets handed the visiting Knicks their eighth straight loss.
Anthony led New York with a game-high 27 points.
- Phoenix Suns 112, Utah Jazz 101: Reserve Markieff Morris scored 23 points, Goran Dragic added 19 with nine assists, and the Suns dropped the visiting Jazz to a league-worst 2-15 record.