LeBron James scores 30 as Heat cruise to victory over Knicks
NEW YORK — LeBron James wasn’t going to be stopped by any basketball defense, so Carmelo Anthony tried one that looked better suited for Super Bowl Sunday.
Tackling James didn’t work, either.
James shook off that hard fall and eventually the Knicks, finishing with 30 points, eight rebounds and seven assists as the Miami Heat snapped New York’s four-game winning streak with a 106-91 victory Saturday night.
James didn’t care for Anthony’s manner of stopping his fast break, which left him wearing ice over his left shoulder after the game. But he wasn’t going to harp on it after the Heat’s impressive performance.
"I’m not going to get caught up in that and try to make that the story of the game," James said. "The way we played tonight was the story of the game."
Dwyane Wade added 22 points for the Heat, who avoided becoming the first team to go 0-4 in New York this season after losing their previous trip to Madison Square Garden earlier this month and both games in Brooklyn.
Bouncing back from a 112-95 home loss to Oklahoma City on Wednesday, the Heat built a series of comfortable leads, let the Knicks cut into a few of them, and then pulled away for good in the fourth.
"That was an embarrassing loss on our home floor. We didn’t bring it, and it’s time," said Shane Battier, who scored a season-high 16 points and played tough defense on Anthony.
"Once Super Bowl is over, people actually start following the NBA and that’s a sign for all of us that it’s time to play."
Anthony had 26 points and eight rebounds for the Knicks, who had been 4-1 against the Heat over the last two seasons but were overmatched in this one. They finished 4-4 on their eight-game homestand, which matched the longest in franchise history.
Unable to stop leading scorer Kevin Durant on Wednesday, the Heat made things tough all night for No. 2 Anthony, whose most memorable play was his open-court tackle of his friend and U.S. Olympic teammate.
"I mean, he was coming at me full speed. I’ve got to get the first hit before he delivered the hit," Anthony said. "As long as he was all right is all I care about. I stopped him."
The Super Bowl-eve game drew a crowd filled with stars from sports, such as David Beckham and Evander Holyfield, and entertainment, with Grammy Award winner Macklemore and actors Hugh Jackman and Ricky Gervais among the 19,812 fans.
James showed them his all-around game, finishing off the decisive 12-2 run with a pair of baskets as Miami turned an 84-79 lead into a 96-81 cushion.
The Knicks were trying to match their longest winning streak, having defeated Charlotte, the Lakers, Boston and Cleveland over the previous eight nights. Obviously, none of those teams is anywhere near Miami’s class, and New York simply made too many of the types of mistakes that teams can’t afford against the NBA champions.
"Whenever we got real close, they got two or three stops in a row and then they scored on those," said J.R. Smith, who scored 20 for the Knicks. "We just weren’t able to counter for some reason. They just got a lot of easy baskets."
The Heat were only 5-5 over their previous 10 games, but showed how dangerous they remain when their defense is right and James and Wade are able to get into transition.
"It was encouraging to see the Miami Heat activity again. Even if we wouldn’t have won, just to see that aggressiveness," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
Wade shot 10 for 15 against a Knicks team that played its second straight game without Iman Shumpert, who has a sprained right shoulder and would’ve been New York’s best hope in defending the Heat’s All-Star guard.
Miami closed the first quarter with a 10-2 run and led 29-22 behind 11 points from Battier. The Heat seemed firmly in control in the second, opening a 46-32 lead on James’ follow shot with 5:44 to play. They still led by double digits with under a minute to play after Anthony had an 0-for-3 trip to the line with 1:37 remaining, but baskets by Kenyon Martin and Tyson Chandler cut it to 53-46 at the break.
NOTES: Amare Stoudemire returned for the Knicks after missing seven games with a sprained left ankle. He played just 4 minutes, making his only shot attempt. … All-Star Chris Bosh shot just 2 for 11 for four points but led the Heat with 10 rebounds.