Raptors turn on Heat

MIKE GANTER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:57 AM ET

Sam Mitchell threw down the gauntlet and his charges responded.

Looking to replace starting small forward Jorge Garbajosa's minutes after a horrific season-ending ankle injury on Monday, Mitchell said he would go with the guy or guys who showed the most hustle, brought the most energy and, in a nutshell, showed they wanted it most.

Mitchell's biggest problem this morning, and it's a nice problem to have, will be fingering just one guy as the Raptors coach got contributions from all areas of the roster in a 96-83 win over the surging Miami Heat.

"I thought Kris Humphries and Joey (Graham) and Mo (Peterson) and the other guys off the bench played well,'' Mitchell said. "Like we've been doing all year we find a way to win games and other guys step up and play well.''

Out of the gate, Mitchell went with Juan Dixon as his new starting shooting guard with Anthony Parker sliding into Garbajosa's old small forward spot.

Dixon was a big part of the Raptors' early surge as he scored eight first-quarter points as the Heat fell behind by 16 after the period.

Peterson also came up big in the early going knocking down a few key three-pointers as the Raptors got the Heat out of its game early.

Then there was Humphries, who wound up playing large minutes at the centre position and responded with a season-high 10 rebounds and a career-high seven offensive boards.

It appears Mitchell is going to have plenty of options down the stretch as he goes about doling out minutes.

"I think it's a great position to be in,'' Parker, who poured in a game-high 20 points, said. "I think everyone came in and gave great minutes and great energy and that's what we need. We're a unit and if one guy goes down, whether it's injury or fouls or he's just not feeling good that night, that's the strength of this team that the next guy can step in and step up and contribute.''

Humphries earned every one of his season-high 27 minutes with his defensive effort on Miami behemoth Shaquille O'Neal and his career performance on the boards.

"He's so athletic and strong and that's what he can do,'' Parker said of Humphries' huge rebounding game.

"He's a talented player offensively too, but that's how you get your minutes. That's how you get your foot in the door and then all those other things start to come.''

Six different Raptors -- Parker, Dixon, T.J. Ford, Bosh, Peterson, and Rasho Nesterovic -- all reached double digits in scoring.

Bosh and Humphries were beasts on the boards, combining for 28 rebounds, including Bosh's game-high 18.

Miami head coach Pat Riley gave the Raptors plenty of credit for taking his team out of its game.

"Obviously we didn't get off to a great start,'' Riley said. "I think a lot of it simply had to do with how good (the Raps) were. After about four or five minutes in the first quarter they had a great run off a lot of our misses.

"We got ourselves in a hole right from the beginning.''

The win moves the Raptors into sole possession of third place in the Eastern Conference.

The difference between third and fourth is more than likely going to wind up being home-court advantage in the first round.

"It's great getting a division championship and it's great to get a fourth seed but at the end of the day you have to have that home-court advantage,'' Bosh said.


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