MIAMI — LeBron James took a hard foul and clearly was not happy. So the next time he saw the ball, he made sure no Toronto player could reach him.
James’ steal and dunk with just more than two minutes left gave Miami some breathing room, and the Heat held on to defeat the Toronto Raptors 95-89 on Sunday. James finished with 30 points and Dwyane Wade added 25 for the Heat (18-6), who won for the 10th time in its last 12 games and moved within one game of Chicago (20-6) for the best record in the Eastern Conference.
“We stuck with our principles,” James said. “And that’s to defend.”
Chris Bosh scored 12 points against his former team, which trimmed Miami’s 15-point edge to three in the final minutes but never captured the lead. Mario Chalmers added 11 for Miami.
DeMar DeRozan scored 25 for the Raptors, who got 17 apiece from Jerryd Bayless and Linas Kleiza.
“I liked our disposition,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “I liked the way we approached it. I liked the way we competed.”
Kleiza’s 3-pointer with just under five minutes left got Toronto within eight, and another 3 from Bayless as the shot clock expired on the next Raptors’ possession cut the Miami lead to 85-80 — the closest the game had been since early in the third quarter.
Bayless scored again to get the Raptors within three and cap a 12-0 Toronto run. And after Bosh missed a fadeaway from the right baseline, Bayless tried a 3-pointer to tie. It bounced off, and with the game in the balance, James went to work.
He was fouled by James Johnson and made two free throws with 2:20 left, not before letting anyone around him know he wasn’t pleased with the physicality of the play. The next time James touched the ball, he didn’t give the Raptors a chance to foul him — his steal and two-handed slam with 2:07 left gave Miami an 89-82 edge and all but ensured the win.
“Good back-to-back plays for our team and I was happy I was able to make them,” James said.
James — who leads the NBA in first-quarter scoring this season (9.1 points a game) — got off to another big start, making his first five shots and scoring 12 points in the opening quarter. He’s now shooting just under 60 percent in first quarters this season.
While scoring wasn’t an issue, the Heat were far from in the clear.
Casey told the Raptors that establishing pace and limiting turnovers — especially early — would be big keys. Seemed like his team got the message: The Raptors matched a season-high with 27 points in the first quarter, and turned the ball over only five times in the first half. That, combined with DeRozan tying his season best with 16 points in the opening two quarters, kept the Raptors close.