When an injury and foul trouble sends your two best players to the bench in the opening minutes of the second half, and another starter joins them before the end of the third quarter, someone has to step up.
For the Miami Heat, it was Terry Porter, scoring 12 of his 20 points in the final period. And Dan Majerle, who scored the winning basket with 1.1 seconds to play as the Heat rallied to a 91-89 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night.
"They knew they were going to win, but we took the victory out of the lion's jaws," said Porter, whose team trailed by 11 until Mark Strickland's basket with 1:39 left in the third quarter launched a 17-5 run that put them up 78-77.
"I was just playing basketball, taking what the defense gave me," added Porter, who was 7-for-9 from the field, making all three of his 3-pointers and scoring 10 during the rally that got the Heat back in the game.
The Heat have won 12 of their last 14 games and seven in a row at home. They have beaten the 76ers, who were paced by NBA scoring leader Allen Iverson with 28 points, nine straight times, including an 89-78 win Friday in Philadelphia.
The 76ers built their lead by taking advantage of Alonzo Mourning's sprained right ankle 36 seconds into the second half. Mourning picked up his fourth foul while Theo Ratliff scored from close range.
Mourning's ankle was retaped on the bench, where he stayed until 9:19 remained in the game. Fourteen seconds later, he returned to the sidelines with his fifth foul.
"I'm happy we didn't let this one slip away, considering all the obstacles we faced," said Mourning, who is not expected to miss any future action because of the injury.
Those obstacles included the fact Mourning sat out most of the third quarter and two other Miami starters joined him on the bench after collecting heir fourth fouls. Tim Hardaway went out at 9:01 and P. J. Brown with 2:03 left. Hardaway also played through a bruised thigh, suffered in the first period.
"We had a lot of things go wrong, but a couple of guys stepped up when we needed them," Miami coach Pat Riley said. "We won a miracle."
Majerle's game-winner came after he inbounded the ball to Hardaway with 6.6 seconds to play, watched Hardaway miss a baseline jumper, and grabbed the rebound a few feet in front of the basket.
"It's the second-chance points that kill you and we gave up one at the end," Philadelphia coach Larry Brown said. "You have to put a body on people."
Majerle hit just one of his previous seven shots in the game.
After a timeout, Mourning stole Aaron McKie's inbounds pass to end the game.
With Mourning out, the 76ers launched a 13-1 rally that featured five points by Iverson, taking a 63-52 lead with 5:55 to play in the third quarter a lead they held until Porter keyed Miami's surge.
Mourning returned for good at 4:44, in the midst of six straight 76ers points, on baskets by Matt Geiger and Eric Snow and Iverson's two free throws, that put Philadelphia up 85-80 with 4:08 to play.
The Heat answered with baskets by Brown and Porter before two free throws by Hardaway put them back on top 86-85z with 1:44 remaining.
Porter's 3-pointer, sandwiched between a pair of 76ers baskets, tied the game at 89 and set the stage for Majerle's final basket. Notes: Both teams started cold, with the first points not scored until 2:13 had been played. Iverson broke the drought with an 18-foot jumper on the 76ers' fifth possession. Miami got on the board on its seventh possession when Brown hit a layup. ... In a string dating back to last season, the 76ers have held 21 of their last 22 opponents under 100 points. ... The Heat extended to 393 their NBA record for consecutive games with at least one 3-point basket. ... The 76ers used the same starting lineup for the 18th consecutive game. ... The game kicked off a five-game homestand for Miami.
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