Heat's streak improves to 22 games after win over Raptors
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 Sunday after the Heat defeated the Raptors 108-91 to win their 22nd consecutive game.
Of course, some credit should go to LeBron James, who poured in 22 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists to lead Miami’s offence, but it was Battier’s oratory skills that had the Heat talking after the 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. 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).
The Heat matched the 2007-08 Houston Rockets at 22 and now trail just the 1971-72 Los Angeles 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, 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 Sunday as sharpshooter Ray Allen scored 14 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter as Miami pulled away.
Battier, who delivered his first memorable speech on Super Bowl Sunday, said there’s no special magic to his words.
“I talk from the heart,” he said. “And I’m an old man around here. I’ve seen a few things, played for some great coaches. Seize the moment, enjoy the moment, it’s easy to get caught up in the past, but enjoy where you are right now, and you’ll live a happy life.”
Rudy Gay led Toronto (26-41) with 27 points and Amir Johnson pulled down 18 boards to go with 18 points. Jonas Valanciunas also had 18 points while DeMar DeRozan added 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. 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. 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. With a team like that we just have to play energized because they have so many weapons they can use.”