April 12 (UPI) — Wayne Ellington went off for a career-high 32 points and made six 3-pointers in the fourth quarter of the Miami Heat’s 116-109 win against the Toronto Raptors.
The Heat pulled off the season-finale victory in an overtime thriller Wednesday at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami. Miami was already in the Eastern Conference playoffs, but now knows that it’s first-round matchup will come this weekend against the Philadelphia 76ers.
“It’s so gratifying it feels so good,” Ellington said in his on-court postgame interview. “For our last game to end like that, it feels amazing. It’s just a testament to all the hard work we put in all season long.”
Toronto finished in first place in the Eastern Conference with a 59-23 record. The Raptors will face the Washington Wizards in the first round.
“The DNA of this entire organization is to play for it and to continue to try and et to a better spot,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I’ll be frank, we were trying to get a home court. We just couldn’t get it done in the last two or three weeks. We had some tough losses, but that’s what we were going for.”
“That’s just how everybody is wired. Our group is an extremely resilient group. Even with a lot of those tough losses, for some reason our group has gained a toughness and confidence from those games.”
Ellington broke the Heat single-season record for 3-pointers with 227 during his 2017-2018 campaign. He went 8-for-12 from downtown in the win. His seventh successful shot from downtown on Wednesday set the record, which was previously held by Damon Jones.
“It was magical. I got in the zone. I don’t want to get emotional but it feels amazing,” Ellington said. “It means everything to me man. I would just like to thank my teammates, my coaches, my family, my woman … my baby boy. It feels so good. It was a magical night.”
The Heat trailed 29-27 after the first quarter, with the Raptors getting seven points from Kyle Lowry. Toronto took a 53-47 edge into the locker room at halftime and held a 78-71 lead through three quarters.
Ellington sank his first trey of the final quarter about 37 seconds in, but he really caught fire in the final six minutes of the frame. He hit his second shot of the quarter from downtown with about 5:53 remaining. Ellington came back and drained another 3-pointer with 3:38 remaining, giving the Heat a 96-95 lead. He struck again about 20 seconds later, increasing the Heat’s lead to four points.
Lowry and DeMar DeRozan tied the game with back-to-back jumpers before the Heat went back to the well.
Ellington rose up once again, converting a feed from Bam Adebayo and giving the heat a 102-99 lead with two minutes remaining. DeRozan eventually answered back, giving the Raptors a 103-102 edge with 1:26 remaining in regulation, before Ellington put the Heat on top with a 3-pointer with 18 seconds remaining. The Raptors tipped in a shot to go to overtime.
Ellington scored two more points in the extra frame, pushing his total to 32 points.
The Heat battle the Sixers in Game 1 of the first-round series at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.