Lebron guides Heat to win over Raptors

Basketball NBA:

LeBron James put his fourth-quarter uncertainties behind him with critical late plays that helped the Miami Heat survive a late scare from Toronto in a nervous 95-89 home win over the Raptors on Sunday.

James, who has endured struggles in the deciding moments of games dating back to the NBA Finals, scored a game-high 30 points including four straight in the final two minutes when his team needed him most.

“We stuck with our principles... and that's to defend,” LeBron said. “Good back-to-back plays for our team and I was happy I was able to make them,” LeBron added.

Toronto launched a 12-0 run in the fourth to trim a 15-point deficit to just 85-82 with three and a half minutes remaining, but James responded with two free throws and a dunk to put the Heat in a comfortable position.

Dwyane Wade added 25 points in the win, Miami's (18-6) seventh in eight games.
“We came into this game knowing we wouldn't be able to take any shortcuts and it would be a work game,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters.

“We would have to work the game for 48 minutes. We knew we would face a lot of zone (defence). We will take this win and move on.”

DeMar DeRozan led the Raptors with 25 points while Jerryd Bayless and Linas Kleiza each added 17 for the visitors.

“I liked our disposition,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “I liked the way we approached it. I liked the way we competed.”

Toronto (8-17) appeared buried for good when they fell behind by 16 in the third but they made it interesting before slipping to their third loss in four games. Bayless and Kleiza each hit three-pointers during the team's fourth quarter run and the Raptors tried to stymie the Heat with a zone defense.

Chris Bosh, who spent his first seven NBA seasons with the Raptors, had a quiet night with 12 points on 3-of-13 shooting.  In the day’s other game Boston Celtics toppled the Memphis Grizzlies 98-80.

Meanwhile, injury-prone Portland Trail Blazers center Greg Oden will have arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on Friday, his fourth procedure in five years, the National Basketball Association team said. Oden, who was selected by Portland with the first overall pick of the 2007 draft, will have the surgery in Vail, Colorado ‘to remove debris’ from his knee.

The seven-foot center has played only 82 games for the Trail Blazers in four years with career averages of 9.4 points and 7.3 rebounds.

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