Heat Check: LeBron James carries Miami past New York
APR 06, 2014 4:30p ET
MIAMI -- The "MVP" chants got loud at AmericanAirlines Arena on Sunday afternoon and for good reason.
The four-time league MVP, including the past two seasons with Miami, also had five rebounds and six assists as he tries for an individual three-peat while the two-time defending champions seek the same.
Miami (53-23) moved a half game ahead of Indiana (53-24) in the race for the Eastern Conference top seed. The Pacers played host to Atlanta on Sunday night.
The Knicks scored seven straight points to cut a 13-point deficit to get within 92-85 with 4:41 remaining. New York got no closer than six points the rest of the way.
The Heat committed six turnovers after just 5:46 of play but then 10 overall after that.
Both teams had impact from beyond the arc. Miami hit 12 of 27 from 3-point territory; New York was 15 of 42.
J.R. Smith scored 32 points -- hitting 10 of 20 from 3-point territory -- to lead five Knicks starters in double-figure scoring. New York (33-45) fell 1 1/2 games behind Atlanta in the fight for the East's final played spot.
THE TURNING POINT
The Heat held the Knicks to 14 third-quarter points and scored the period's final seven points to go ahead 73-64.
THE DIFFERENCE MAKER
Again it was James, who scored 22 points in the second half.
STAT OF THE GAME
New York's J.R. Smith sank a team-record 10 of 20 from 3-point range.
The Heat will play the Brooklyn Nets in the fifth straight home game on Tuesday at 8 p.m.