Jones had 16 points, including a key 3-pointer with 1:06 left.
"Don't jinx us," Jones said when told the Heat are undefeated
since he became their starting point guard. "It feels really good
to be able to start and finish a game."
Jones stared and yelled at Toronto's bench after his 3-pointer
gave Miami a 100-92 lead 1:06 left. He added two free throws with
44 seconds left to make it a nine-point lead.
"They were on me all game long, saying I can't make shots,"
said Jones, who made leads the NBA with 64 3-pointers.
O'Neal has told Jones he'll give him $50,000 if he wins the
3-point shooting contest at All-Star weekend. Shaq likes Jones, who
is on his ninth team in seven years.
"Damon Jones is a good floor leader, a good shooter and an
all-around funny guy," O'Neal said.
Told Jones talks a lot of trash, O'Neal said: "He sure does."
Miami stepped up its defense in the fourth quarter as Toronto
went 6-for-20 from the field with five turnovers.
The Heat outscored the undersized Raptors 52-26 in the paint.
Jalen Rose scored 25 points for the Raptors, who have lost seven
straight and 15 of 18. Vince Carter is on the injured list with a
strained left Achilles' tendon, and Toronto hasn't won a game
without him since January 2003.
The Heat led by just three before a double-teamed O'Neal passed
to Christian Laettner for two straight uncontested layups, giving
Miami a 97-90 lead with 2:14 remaining.
"Layups like that just break your back," Toronto coach Sam
Former Heat point guard Rafer Alston had 19 points, nine assists
and eight turnovers. Alston played the entire game because backup
Milt Palacio missed his second straight for personal reasons.
O'Neal defended Carter's toughness to reporters before the
game, but later teased him during the game with a hand gesture that
inferred that Carter is a wimp. "I wouldn't say he's not tough.
He's just up here by himself. He just needs somebody else with him.
Two superheros is always better than one," O'Neal told reporters.
O'Neal didn't mention Rose, rumored to be involved in a possible
trade for Eddie Jones. ... Alston thinks Mitchell should stop
coaching as if he's still a player. "He's got to leave that to the
side," said Alston, who says not everyone can play like Mitchell
did. "He was a tough, hard-nose defender. For some of us that's
not our makeup."