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O'Neal helps Heat regain lead in Southeast Division

Apr 4, 2007 - 3:44 AM MIAMI (Ticker) -- Shaquille O'Neal and the defending champions have control of their own destiny once again.

O'Neal had 16 points and 12 rebounds and Udonis Haslem added 16 and nine as the Miami Heat held on for a 92-89 victory over the Toronto Raptors.

With the victory, Miami (40-34) regained the lead by one-half game over the Washington Wizards (39-34) for first place in the Southeast Division with eight games left. Washington fell, 122-102, at Charlotte Tuesday.

"You're reminded of it before the game," Heat swingman James Posey said. "Every game is important. They manhandled us up there in Toronto, so we had to come back, make a statement and get a win."

The Raptors trailed by as many as 15 points before making things interesting when journeyman Luke Jackson drained a 3-pointer from the left corner to close within 84-82 at the 4:35 mark.

After trading points, Miami pushed its lead to 88-84 on O'Neal's hook over Rasho Nesterovic with 3:45 remaining. But Toronto All-Star Chris Bosh converted a three-point play to make it a one-point contest with 44 seconds remaining.

Posey sank all four of his free throws in the waning moments to keep the Heat ahead, 92-89.

"(Posey) made four in a row (from the line)," Heat coach Pat Riley said. "That's what it's all about. We dodged a few bullets down the stretch. It's a huge win for us."

The Raptors still hand a chance to send the game into overtime, but T.J. Ford's shot from the arc rattled out.

"That is what T.J.'s job is; in the last seconds he is our best player off the dribble," Bosh said. "We ask him to make plays, and he had two great shots at it. He just missed."

"We ran the play for T.J.," Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said. "We knew he could get to where he wanted to get. That shot looked good. We were in the bonus, so we were hoping to either get it in the paint or get to the free-throw line. He got a good look. It looked like it was down, but it came out."

Miami saw the return of sharpshooter Jason Kapono, who had missed 14 games with a high ankle sprain. He scored seven points on 3-of-5 shooting Tuesday.

"I'm glad to be back on the floor," Kapono said. "I've spent too much time in the training room. I felt pretty good. It was still a little tight."

Bosh collected 24 points and 11 rebounds and Nesterovic and Juan Dixon each netted 11 for Toronto, which shot 37 percent (33-of-87) from the field.

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