Coming off a draining double-overtime loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Miami Heat looked to get back to their winning ways against the New York Knicks. The Heat entered Sunday’s game percentage points ahead of the Indiana Pacers for the No. 1 seed in the East with just over a week remaining in the regular season. Miami was able to keep Indiana at bay for at least another day by defeating New York 102-91.
The Heat earned the win despite a record-breaking day from J.R. Smith. Smith hit ten three-pointers for the Knicks on 22 attempts. Those 22 attempts set a new NBA record for most three-pointers taken in a single game. Over the last three games, Smith has attempted 50 three-pointers. As a team, the Knicks went 15-for-42 from beyond the arc against Miami.
New York was able to make several of those threes to begin the game, jumping out to a 16-3 lead in the opening minutes. The Heat looked lethargic at the start, being sloppy with the ball and slow on defensive rotations. Even LeBron James appeared out of sorts to begin the game, turning the ball over four times in the first four minutes. It was not until midway through the first quarter that Miami began to wake up. They finished the first quarter trailing 26-25.
Miami was down two points at halftime before taking over the game in the third quarter. Miami’s offense began clicking in the second half thanks to crisp passing that generated open looks for their shooters. Ray Allen was one of the beneficiaries of the improved ball movement, hitting four three-pointers for the Heat. Miami outscored the Knicks 25-14 in the period, closing on a 7-0 run to take a nine-point lead.
Smith was able to keep the Knicks somewhat close in the final period by hitting five three-pointers in the quarter. The margin was cut to six on two occasions and the Knicks appeared to have clawed back into the game. Yet, each time Smith hit what looked to be an important shot, the Heat were able to respond with a momentum killing basket on the other end.
James paced the Heat, pouring in 38 points, five rebounds and six assists while only committing one turnover after his struggles in the opening minutes of the game. He yet again out-dueled Carmelo Anthony who finished with just 13 points on 4-for-17 shooting.
For the Knicks, the loss makes it nearly impossible for them to earn a playoff spot. They will need to win all of their remaining games and have the Atlanta Hawks crumble down the stretch if they are to make the playoffs. Smith and the Knicks will have until Friday to rest up for a big game against the Toronto Raptors. This should give Smith plenty of time to rest his arm.