Heat move atop East, beat Raptors 93-83

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 31, 2014 at 10:08 pm •  Published: March 31, 2014
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MIAMI (AP) — For the first time all season, the Miami Heat are alone atop the Eastern Conference.

And that's quite a turnaround from how things seemed less than a week ago.

LeBron James fought through a sore back to score 32 points, Chris Bosh added 18 and the Heat used another strong defensive effort to beat the Toronto Raptors 93-83 on Monday night. The win pushed the two-time defending NBA champions percentage points ahead of the struggling Indiana Pacers in the race for the No. 1 seed in the East.

"It doesn't feel like anything," James said. "The standings are what they are. We want to play the best we can and the fact that we are in first place, I think that's pretty cool but we've got so much work to do. We've got too much work to do. We've got guys that need to get healthy. We haven't even talked about it. We probably won't talk about it. We've got to play the season out."

Chris Andersen scored 13 points on 5-for-5 shooting and Mario Chalmers added 12 for Miami (51-22), which was again without Dwyane Wade (hamstring), Greg Oden (back) and Ray Allen (flu).

Indiana (52-23) lost at home earlier Monday night to San Antonio, 103-77.

"The No. 1 seed is the last thing on our minds right now," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said after his team's loss.

The Heat — who were three games out in the East after losing at Indiana on Wednesday — are basically saying the same thing.

Sure, it's a neat perk — Heat coach Erik Spoelstra called it an "ancillary" effect of hard work — and Bosh acknowledged the outcomes Monday merited a very subtle fist-pump from him. But there's still plenty of time for things to change, and Miami is thinking more about getting those who are hurt and sick back into rhythm with the playoffs coming up in less than three weeks.

"We're aware of it," Spoelstra said of the standings. "It's not that we're naive to it. I didn't talk about it. ... These were pros that were getting ready for battle and it's that type of focus, that's the type of thing we're trying to stress right now, the process of building those habits. The results will follow. They tend to take care of themselves."

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