LeBron clutch in 4th for surging Heat
LeBron James stretched his arm above the rim, soaring high on a shaky knee and turning his steal into a finishing dunk as Carmelo Anthony hung his head near midcourt.
The Heat took the Knicks’ best shot, but it wasn’t good enough to beat the defending champs.
Nothing is right now.
James had 29 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists, and Miami tied a franchise record with its 14th straight victory, rallying for a 99-93 victory at New York on Sunday.
”We feel like this is one of our better wins of the season, even under the circumstances that we went through tonight, a little adversity being down double digits,” James said.
Dwyane Wade added 20 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the Heat, who had to overcome a 16-point deficit to beat the Knicks for the first time in three tries this season. Chris Bosh bounced back from a dismal first half to finish with 16 points and Shane Battier hit all four 3-point attempts to score 12.
The Heat won their sixth straight on the road by controlling the final minutes against a team that had a pair of 20-point victories over them this season and looked ready to run them out of the building again.
But James shook off a third-quarter leg injury and was back in top form by the finish, putting it away by coming up with a steal and throwing down a dunk with 23 seconds left.
”Obviously, it’s great to win games, period. But when you’re on a win streak, you’ve got to find many different ways to win ballgames and we’ve had comebacks in the last seconds, we’ve had double-overtime games, but this was probably the most thrilling one,” Wade said. ”It was the most challenging. For a team who beat us twice, they handled us twice and they were up 16 in the first half, for us to have the resilience to come back, find a way fight out this win, it was great.”
Carmelo Anthony scored 32 points for the Knicks, who had won three in a row. Jason Kidd emerged from a lengthy slump to finish with 14 points, eight rebounds and six assists. J.R. Smith had 13 points and 12 rebounds, but shot 5 of 18 from the field.
”I think we are disappointed because we had an opportunity to win a ballgame here at home against the champs,” Kidd said. ”So it’s something we can look at and get better at with those mistakes, especially later in the game.”
The Heat matched their 14 straight wins during the 2004-05 season and finally beat one of their closest pursuers in the Eastern Conference after dropping their first four against the Knicks and Indiana Pacers.
James landed awkwardly when he was fouled trying to catch a lob pass in the third quarter and was trying afterward to loosen his left knee or leg. He looked fine in the closing minutes, making key plays on both ends of the floor.
”His motor is limitless. I don’t want to take that for granted. I don’t just want to assume that he can play 40-plus minutes, but he had to do it on both ends,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. ”Couldn’t get him out in the fourth quarter and if I would have tried, he probably would have strangled me.
”He was strong and was at his strongest after 40 minutes of basketball.”
Bosh tied it at 87 and Wade’s basket with 4:29 left gave Miami the lead for good. James then blocked Tyson Chandler at the rim and hustled down the floor to put back a Miami miss, making it 91-87.
The Knicks twice were within two, but James scored on a drive the second time. Bosh followed with a jumper for a 97-91 advantage, and after two free throws by Raymond Felton, James ended the Knicks’ final hopes when he stepped in front of a pass headed toward Anthony and broke in alone for the slam.
”They kind of walked us down towards the end,” Anthony said. ”We made some mistakes, turned the ball over, and then that turnover was probably just the icing on the cake right there.”
James said he felt the knee a little bit during the game, but expected to be in uniform Monday at Minnesota.
The Knicks beat Miami here by 20 in their season opener and won again in Miami in early December by 20, even while playing without Anthony because of a cut on his finger that required stitches.
This looked headed for another blowout.
Kidd missed his 14 3-point attempts in the last three games and had been in a 7-for-49 slump behind the arc since Feb. 1, finally losing his starting job before Friday’s victory at Washington.
But he made a 3 early in the second quarter, then hit three more in the period. The Knicks rattled off eight points in a row to make it 59-43, their only concern coming when Anthony went to the locker room before the half ended with what the team said was pain in his ribs. He was back when the second half started and said the injury didn’t bother him.
The Knicks’ two victories over the Heat came during their 18-5 start, when they seemed championship capable. But they are just 17-16 since, and Miami’s a far different team now than it was in December.
Bosh had eight quick points in the third quarter after a two-point, 1-of-6 first half. Miami scored the last six of the period, cutting it to 77-73 on Battier’s 3-pointer with 1.8 seconds to go.
Miami finally caught up at 79-all when James nailed his second straight 3-pointer, stomping his feet forcefully as he walked away following the second with 10:04 to play.
Notes: Juwan Howard was inactive, a day after the Heat re-signed the 40-year-old forward who finished last season with them. ”To be honest, it felt a little bit strange not having him with us,” Spoelstra said. ”It makes sense, it feels right.” … Knicks coach Mike Woodson said forward Kenyon Martin will be with the Knicks beyond the expiration of his first 10-day contract.