Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 3)

Series starts 11/29

Game 1: Saturday, November 29th
Game 2: Sunday, December 14th
Game 3: Tuesday, March 2nd

Raptors 89

(26-34, 12-19 away)

Heat 86

(25-36, 17-12 home)

    7:30 PM ET, March 2, 2004

    AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, FL

    1 2 3 4 T
    TOR 15 37 26 1189
    MIA 30 24 24 886

    Top Performers

    Tor: V. Carter 27 Pts, 5 Reb, 8 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 Blk

    Mia: L. Odom 23 Pts, 14 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Stl

    Teams combine for just 19 points in fourth

    MIAMI (AP) -- Ready or not, healthy or not, Vince Carter returned to help the Toronto Raptors end a season-long slide.

    "Early on (the ankle) was stiff, but I just kept going and said, 'Think about it later," said Carter, who came off the injured list and scored 27 points Tuesday night to help the Raptors snap a nine-game losing streak with 89-86 victory over the Miami Heat.

    "My main concern was being healthy enough to go out and play."

    The teams combined to score 19 points in the fourth quarter, breaking the NBA record for fewest combined points (20) in the final period.

    The game ended with Miami coach Stan Van Gundy rushing toward the officials and screaming after no foul was called on Chris Bosh as he defended Eddie Jones' 3-point attempt just before the final buzzer.

    "We're 0-4 on those (late-game) calls," said Van Gundy, citing earlier games in Portland, Detroit and Cleveland. "In this playoff race, that's a big difference."

    Donyell Marshall shot 6-of-9 from 3-point territory and scored 24 points for the Raptors, who were 11-of-20 from long range.

    Lamar Odom had 23 points and 14 rebounds for Miami, which lost its fourth in a row. The Heat shot just 2-of-19 in the fourth quarter.

    Miami's Udonis Haslem, who had made 20 consecutive free throws, missed the second of two foul shots with 49.2 seconds left to leave the Heat behind 87-86.

    "It felt so good on the release, I thought it was going in," Haslem said. "It's the worst feeling. To hit 20 in a row, and then the one I miss decides it."

    The Raptors ran the shot clock down and then grabbed an offensive rebound, leaving to a pair of free throws by Carter with 9 seconds remaining for the game's final points.

    "This is a game we can't complain about the referees," said Miami forward Brian Grant, whose team led by 15 points after the first quarter. "This was a game where we were in control in the first half. If we had just kept that going."

    Carter played a team-high 41 minutes after missing the previous six games with a left ankle sprain.

    "I was a little iffy earlier today, and even before the game, if I could go," Carter said. "It's not the sprain but the other side, a bone bruise.

    "I'm glad we made the decision and we won. I need to be out there."

    Toronto's reserves outscored Miami's 30-8 to help overcome the absence of Jalen Rose (fractured hand) and Alvin Williams (knee).

    "When you're playing short-handed and on a nine-game loss streak, any win is a big win," Toronto coach Kevin O'Neill said. "No team in this league can lose any of its top three scorers and expect to produce offensively."

    The score was tied at 78 after three quarters. Each of Miami's five starters reached double figures before the third quarter had ended. Toronto began the fourth quarter shooting 54.7 percent (11 of 17) from 3-point territory.

    "We can't wait for them to hit a cold streak, we have to go out and make them hit a cold streak," said Miami forward Caron Butler, who hit just four of 16 shots.

    Carter scored 15 points in the second quarter to help Toronto rally from 15 points down and pull to 54-52 at halftime. The Raptors sank all six 3-point attempts and scored 37 points, the most Miami has surrendered in a quarter this season.

    Jones hit five of six shots and scored 12 points to help the Heat build a 30-15 lead after one quarter. Odom had eight rebounds while playing the entire quarter.

    Game notes

    Toronto forward Morris Peterson returned after receiving three stitches at halftime to close a cut on his right hand. ... Marshall's six 3-pointers were the most against the Heat this season. ... The Heat's victory total remained at 25, the same as all of last season (25-57). ... Miami was without rookie guard Dwyane Wade, sidelined with a right-foot bone contusion suffered in Sunday's loss at Milwaukee. .. The Raptors snapped Miami's six-game winning streak against them. ... Toronto forward Michael Bradley (knee) was put on the injured list to make room for Carter. ... Rose missed his 11th consecutive game; Williams his fifth. ... Toronto, which visits Washington on Wednesday night, improved to 6-6 in the first game of back-to-back situations this season. ... The previous one-quarter scoring high for a Miami opponent was 35 points by Memphis in the first quarter on Dec. 19.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 89 86
    FGM-FGA 34-70 (.486) 34-78 (.436)
    3PM-3PA 11-20 (.550) 3-12 (.250)
    FTM-FTA 10-12 (.833) 15-21 (.714)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 6-33 10-37
    Assists 18 17
    Turnovers 13 11
    Steals 7 10
    Blocks 4 2
    Fast Break Points 0 6
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 19 (0/0) 12 (0/0)

    Top Performers

    Vince Carter Carter
    Points: 27
    Reb: 5
    Ast: 8
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 1
    Lamar Odom Odom
    Points: 23
    Reb: 14
    Ast: 3
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0