Heat comes back without Shaq

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:38 AM ET

No Shaquille O'Neal. No Alonzo Mourning. No problem.

Even without their big men up the middle, the Miami Heat found a way to win last night against the Raptors, overcoming deficits in the first three quarters to register a 98-94 victory at the Air Canada Centre.

Miami improved to 49-23.

It wasn't until third-year sensation Dwayne Wade scored on a marvelous running layup that began with a between-the-legs move with 3:20 to go that the Heat took the lead. While the Raptors briefly re-claimed the lead, the Heat took control for good on a two-point layup by veteran Gary Paton on a fast break.

O'Neal was a game-time scratch with a hyperextended left knee that apparently happened in the morning shootaround. He is listed as day-to-day and did not talk to the media before or after the game.

Mourning, property of the Raptors at one time, is sidelined with a partial tear of the left calf muscle.

Veteran Antoine Walker started at centre and contributed 18 points and chipped in with more than 36 minutes.

The victory was the latest come-from-behind effort by the Heat this year.

"We hope there's an easier way," said Wade, who had a game-high 37 points. "Of course when you win games like that, it always build character. It always give you confidence, knowing you can come back.

"At the same time you don't want to get into the habit of spotting a team 15 points and say, 'let's go now.'

"The first half was one game, the second half was another, so we just have to be better in the next one."

Heat coach Pat Riley marvelled at Wade's production.

"He's incredible," Riley said. "That's what we have learned about him; that he's a big-game player; a big-time player at the end. He has no fear at the end and he simply wants to be put in that position. He has a way of making plays."

Riley took no delight in the latest Heat win from arrears.

"There's been 10 or 12 games like that this year," he said. "I've never been around a team like this. I don't know if they're just messing with me and saying, 'Coach, we're going to spot teams 15.' I'm only kidding you obviously, but it's very disconcerting for me, so I'm not happy with it at all.

"But we've been able to overcome and I think a lot of it has to do with our overall physical condition. The team is in great shape otherwise we wouldn't be able to come back."


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