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 last season’s NBA Finals, scored a game-high 30 points, including four straight in the final two minutes when his team needed him most.
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 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],” Spoelstra said.
DeMar DeRozan led the Raptors with 25 points, while Jerryd Bayless and Linas Kleiza each added 17 for the visitors.
Toronto 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 three-of-13 shooting.
CELTICS 98, GRIZZLIES 80
In Boston, Kevin Garnett matched his season-high with 24 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the Boston Celtics over the Memphis Grizzlies for to their fourth straight win.
Paul Pierce scored 21 points, moving nine behind Hall of Famer Larry Bird for second place on the club’s all-time list, and Ray Allen added 12. Rajon Rondo had 14 assists and reserve Chris Wilcox chipped in with 12 points.
Rudy Gay paced the Grizzlies with 21 points and seven rebounds and O.J. Mayo scored 15 points for Memphis, who have lost six of eight.
Boston took charge with a 21-7 run early in the fourth quarter that turned a six-point lead to 90-70 on Garnett’s jumper.
Relying on a combination of reserves and two of their usual stars — Garnett and Pierce — the Celtics controlled the glass and outran the Grizzlies for transition baskets.