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Heat return to hardwood, entertain Raptors

11:04 AM, Jan 23, 2013   |    comments
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(Sports Network) - The Miami Heat returned home from a long road trip, have been off for almost a week, but will have to get back into the competitive mode Wednesday night when they host the Toronto Raptors.

The defending champion Heat will be home for three games before heading out on a three-game excursion. Miami went a respectable 3-3 on the recent trek west and remain atop the Eastern Conference standings.

The Heat aren't taking it easy during this long break.

"We're trying to take advantage of this while we can," said head coach Erik Spoelstra. "Won't have too many opportunities like this to have consecutive days of practice."

The Heat ended their road trip with back-to-back wins over the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, both Eastern Conference All-Star starters, led the way against the Lakers with 39 and 27 points, respectively.

Since, Miami signed veteran big man Chris Anderson, aka The Birdman, to a 10- day contract.

"He picks things up quickly," Spoelstra said of Anderson. "He's got good instincts. We're getting to know Chris, he's getting to know us. There's plenty of time to work it all out."

The Raptors halted a four-game losing streak Sunday afternoon with a home victory over the hapless Lakers, 108-103. Jose Calderon paced the Raptors with 22 points and nine assists, while starting forwards Landry Fields and Ed Davis netted 18 apiece.

"We played well enough this week to win a couple of games, but we didn't," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "Today, our guys stayed together, followed the game plan and played together as a team."

Toronto is 11-7 since Dec. 14 and has amassed such a record with several key pieces on the sideline with injury. Kyle Lowry and Fields have missed significant time, but are healthy and back in the lineup.

Andrea Bargnani and rookie center Jonas Valanciunas have been gone for over a month. All of these injuries have opened up playing time for players like Davis, Amir Johnson, Quincy Acy and rookie Terrance Ross.

"It's tough because those two guys are key components," said Casey. "The guys playing right now are playing good basketball. I don't want to change that drastically."

The Heat have won eight in a row against the Raptors, who head up the coast on Thursday to play the Orlando Magic and haven't won in Miami since Nov. 19, 2008, losing six in a row there.

The Sports Network

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