The Miami Heat proved their last time out they don’t necessarily
need LeBron James hitting shots at his usual exceptional rate in
order to pull out a win.
He could’ve used more help in the Heat’s first two meetings with
the New York Knicks, though.
Visiting Miami looks to match a franchise record with its 14th
consecutive victory Sunday by avoiding another defeat to New York,
which is seeking a fourth straight win.
Though James wound up scoring 14 fourth-quarter points and
hitting a clutch 3-pointer with 24 seconds remaining, he connected
on only 4 of 14 from the field and finished with 18 points as the
Heat (42-14) beat Memphis 98-91 on Friday.
It marked a rare off night for the reigning MVP, who has hit
less than 40 percent of his shots only twice this season. Dwyane
Wade, who assisted on James’ late 3, finished with 22 points and
Shane Battier added 14 off the bench.
“He’s the best player in the world,” said Chris Bosh, who
scored 13 points. “But we have the best supporting cast.”
James did finish with 10 assists, though, after having 16 to go
along with 40 points in Tuesday’s double-overtime win over
Sacramento. Those marked his first back-to-back regular-season
games with double-digit assists since Nov. 2 and 5, 2010.
“When I don’t make shots, I know I can do other things to help
our team win,” James said. “It’s no surprise we’ve got guys
stepping up. We’ve got guys who can do the small things, the big
things and everything in between.”
The latest victory brought Miami to the verge of matching the
franchise’s longest winning streak, set in 2004-05, though James
said the team isn’t focusing on the run.
“Just win the next one. That’s all it’s about,” James said.
“We’ve got the next one in New York and then we’ll go on from
James is averaging 33.6 points in his last eight regular-season
trips to Madison Square Garden, but he was held to 23 on Nov. 2 as
the Knicks held Miami to its second-lowest total of the season in a
Carmelo Anthony scored 30 points in that contest as the Knicks
tied a season high with 19 3-pointers, but even his absence due to
a finger injury in the next matchup didn’t prevent New York from
earning another blowout victory over the Heat.
Raymond Felton scored 27 points – hitting six of the Knicks’ 18
3s – to help overcome 31 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists from
James in a 112-92 win at Miami as the rest of the Heat shot only
New York (35-20) heads into this contest having won three
straight following a season-worst four-game skid after Anthony
scored a game-high 30 points in Friday’s 96-88 victory at
“We will be prepared for Miami,” said Anthony, who has scored
at least 30 points in three of his last four.
Felton added 23 points and J.R. Smith scored 13 off the bench
for the Knicks, who outscored the Wizards 23-11 in the fourth
quarter. They know they need to be better going forward, especially
against surging Miami.
“We locked down in spurts, but still not where we really want to
be,” Smith said. “We had the game won a few times, but let them
back in it..”
The Knicks have won seven of nine at home, while the Heat have
won their last five on the road by an average of 16.2 points.