Miami, FL, United States (4E Sports) – LeBron James scored 38 points as the Miami Heat withstood a shooting barrage by J.R. Smith en route to a 102-91 victory over the New York Knicks Sunday at AmericanAirlines Arena.
Mario Chalmers added 15 points, Chris Bosh had 14 and Ray Allen scored 12 as the Heat (53-23) grabbed a half-game lead over the Indiana Pacers for the best record in the East. The Heat also won the season series against the Knicks, 3-1.
“I wasn’t awake yet. I had four turnovers in the first quarter. It was a slow start on my part for sure. I owned that from the beginning but I figured it out from there,” James said of the Heat’s slow start where they trailed, 16-3, in the first period.
Smith made a franchise-record 10 3-pointers and scored 32 points, Raymond Felton added 15, Carmelo Anthony had 13, Amar’e Stoudemire added 12 and Tyson Chandler scored 10 for the Knicks, who slipped to 33-45.
The loss dealt a severe blow to the Knicks’ playoff hopes. They now trail the Atlanta Hawks by 1 1/2 games for the final postseason slot in the Eastern Conference. The Hawks play the Indiana Pacers Sunday night.
“Carmelo is hurting a little bit right now. I could not rest him again tonight. He is giving us what he’s got. The next few days will give him opportunity to heal and get some treatment,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said, referring to Anthony, who finished 4-for-17 from the floor.
The Knicks appeared on the way to pulling off the upset as they jumped to an early 16-3 lead, but the Heat quickly recovered behind James. Miami led 50-46 at halftime and pulled away at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
The Knicks hung around long enough to trim the lead to six late in the third quarter, but the Heat countered with a 15-6 run to grab an 85-70 lead.