Mess in Miami

BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:51 AM ET

Neither Morris Peterson nor Sam Mitchell were around to see the end of the Raptors' game against the Miami Heat last night.

Both Peterson and Mitchell were thrown out late in the fourth quarter of what was to be a 103-91 victory by the Heat at American Airlines Arena.

The fireworks began when Peterson and the Heat's Dwyane Wade did some pushing and shoving, and stared each other down, nose to nose, with 3:46 to go. Wade had taken exception to a hard foul by Peterson.

Both players were given technical fouls, but Peterson got a second one -- much to the chagrin of Mitchell -- and Peterson was ejected. The normally mild-mannered Peterson, who had scored 15 points, ripped off his jersey in disgust as he left the court.

"I think I got the short end of the stick," Peterson said.

"When four or five guys come over and are talking stuff to you, I'm a man. I'm not going to back down from anybody, I don't care who they are."

One of the players who had entered the fray was Heat centre Shaquille O'Neal.

"You have three or four players cursing at each other -- how do you determine which one said the worst of the profanity?" Mitchell asked. "It's beyond me. I don't really want to talk about it, because there's nothing I can say that won't get me fined."

Mitchell had plenty to say in the immediate aftermath of Peterson getting tossed, however.

The Raptors were down by only six points at the time of Peterson's ejection, and as the Heat surged, Mitchell fumed.

With 1:47 to go, a perceived missed foul call as the Raptors' Jalen Rose drove to the basket pushed Mitchell over the edge. He exploded in anger and quickly was ejected.

"It was a lot of things, just a lot of things," a somber Mitchell said afterward.

Surprisingly, it's only the fifth time a Raptors coach has been ejected from a game. Darrell Walker was thrown out twice, as was Butch Carter.

TO THE RESCUE

Shaq was proud of the fact he had come to Wade's rescue, so to speak.

"I told him, let me get in trouble, and he just keeps up his clean image," said Shaq, who led the Heat with 28 points.

"Let me be the butt-hole. But it wasn't really heated. Just a lot of words."

Wade, who scored 27 points, said the bunker mentality is a good sign.

"That's how close we are as a team," Wade said. "Shaq never wants me to get into any trouble."

Shaq, by the way, has what he believes is a great reason for his club to stay humble and focused down the stretch.

"Don't celebrate too early," said Shaq, whose Heat improved to 54-18. "Those who celebrate early will be home early. P----d off early. Babysitting, hanging out with the wife early. You don't want to do that. You want the season to go on."

Miami's Eddie Jones suffered a high right ankle sprain late in the fourth quarter.

The Raptors dropped to 29-41, thus ensuring they will not finish above .500 this season. They have achieved that only three times in 10 years.

Rafer Alston led the Raptors with 19 points, while Chris Bosh had 16 points and 13 rebounds. Donyell Marshall played despite his very sore lower back, collecting five points and eight rebounds.

The Raptors play in Orlando tonight.


Videos

Photos