After chasing Washington almost all season, the Miami Heat have to prefer the way things look now _ with the standings and the injury report.
The Heat welcomed back another key player Tuesday night, then beat the Toronto Raptors 92-89 to move into first place in the Southeast Division again.
Jason Kapono, the NBA's leading 3-point shooter, played in his first game since spraining his ankle four weeks ago. He hit his first three shots, including a 3-pointer, and finished with seven points.
``We just needed to win tonight,'' Kapono said.
The Heat moved a half-game ahead of the Wizards, who looked lost in their first game since Caron Butler broke his hand. Washington allowed Charlotte to shoot 57 percent in a 122-102 loss.
The All-Star, averaging a career-high 19.1 points and 7.4 rebounds, was hurt in Sunday's win over Milwaukee. Barring a deep run in the playoffs, Butler is done for the season.
The way the Wizards looked against the Bobcats, that appears unlikely.
``We miss Caron a lot. He's a guy that can guard guys like Gerald Wallace,'' Wizards guard DeShawn Stevenson said. ``He's an All-Star. But some of the guys on this team will have to step up and become that nasty guy.''
In other games, it was: Detroit 100, Indiana 85; Phoenix 116, Memphis 111; San Antonio 110, Seattle 91; New Orleans 119, Milwaukee 101; Cleveland 101, Minnesota 88; Dallas 97, Sacramento 93; and Denver 111, the Los Angeles Lakers 105.
Wallace had 34 points and 14 rebounds for Charlotte, which was never threatened in the second half. Walter Herrmann added 21 points, Emeka Okafor had 17 points and 13 rebounds, and Raymond Felton had 17 points and 14 assists for the Bobcats.
``They seemed like they were the team fighting for playoff position and we were the team that was going home in the next nine or 10 days,'' Wizards forward Antawn Jamison said.
The Wizards got 33 points from Gilbert Arenas, but lost for the fifth time in seven games.
Miami has fought through a variety of injuries that six weeks ago looked as if they could threaten the defending champion's playoff hopes. But with Dwyane Wade returning to practice Monday and Kapono back on the court Tuesday, the Heat may be at full strength by the time the playoffs start.
Shaquille O'Neal had 16 points and 12 rebounds, Udonis Haslem added 16 points, and Eddie Jones and Jason Williams each scored 14 points for Miami, which clinched the season series with Toronto.
``We simply had to gut it out and we did,'' Heat coach Pat Riley said. ``It's a huge win for us.''
Cavaliers 101, Timberwolves 88
At Minneapolis, LeBron James returned after missing a game with a score knee and had 31 points, 12 rebounds and six assists.
Kevin Garnett had 22 points and 12 rebounds and was the only starter in double figures for the Timberwolves, who were overwhelmed by the tag team of James and Drew Gooden, who had 20 points and 13 rebounds.
Nuggets 111, Lakers 105
At Los Angeles, Carmelo Anthony scored 31 points, Marcus Camby had 21 points, 20 rebounds and six blocked shots, and Denver moved within 1 1/2 games of the sixth-place Lakers in the Western Conference.
The Lakers (39-35) lost for the third time in four games despite getting 39 points from Kobe Bryant, enabling him to become the youngest player to reach 19,000 career points, and Lamar Odom's triple-double.
The Nuggets played without coach George Karl, whose son underwent surgery for the removal of cancerous lymph nodes Monday.
Mavericks 97, Kings 93
At Sacramento, Calif., Josh Howard scored 29 points and Jason Terry added 27 for Dallas, which played without Dirk Nowitzki (food poisoning).
Ron Artest had 25 points and 10 rebounds for the Kings, who have lost four straight and 11 of 13. Kevin Martin had 17 points and nine rebounds, Mike Bibby had 16 points and Shareef Abdur-Rahim added 12.
Suns 116, Grizzlies 111
At Memphis, Tenn., Amare Stoudemire scored 27 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter, and Phoenix won its third straight.
Leandro Barbosa scored 24 points, while Shawn Marion added 17 points and 12 rebounds. Steve Nash had 15 points and 17 assists.
Pau Gasol led Memphis with 23 points and 11 rebounds, while Hakim Warrick finished with 22 points and 16 boards. Reserve Chucky Atkins scored 19 points.
Pistons 100, Pacers 85
At Indianapolis, Tayshaun Prince scored 24 points, and Detroit guaranteed the Pacers their first losing season in a decade.
Indiana's Jermaine O'Neal had 20 points and seven rebounds after sitting out Sunday's game against San Antonio with a sore left knee. The Pacers (32-42) last had a losing season in 1996-97, when they went 39-43. That also was the last time they missed the playoffs.
Spurs 110, SuperSonics 91
At San Antonio, Bruce Bowen made six 3-pointers and scored 18 points, and the Spurs swept the four-game season series.
Chris Wilcox led Seattle with 20 points, followed by Rashard Lewis with 19 and Johan Petro with 14.
Hornets 119, Bucks 101
At Milwaukee, David West scored 24 points, Desmond Mason added 21, and New Orleans handed the Bucks their seventh straight loss.
Tyson Chandler added 18 points and 20 rebounds for the Hornets (34-40), who moved within 2 1/2 games of the idle Los Angeles Clippers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Hornets haven't made the playoffs since the 2003-04 season.