|Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade (3) goes up for a dunk over New York Knicks' Bill Walker (5) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Jan. 27, 2012, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)|
James, Wade lead Heat over Knicks, 99-89
MIAMI—LeBron James scored 31 points, Dwyane Wade scored 28 in his return from a sprained right ankle, and the Miami Heat beat the 3-point-obsessed New York Knicks 99-89 on Friday night.
Chris Bosh scored 13 points and James finished with eight rebounds and seven assists for Miami, which plays host to Chicago on Sunday in a rematch of last season's Eastern Conference finals.
Bill Walker scored 21 points for New York, which took 43 shots from 3-point range, the most in the NBA this season and a total that had the Knicks flirting with Dallas' NBA record of 49 set in 1996. The Knicks connected on 18 from beyond the arc, Walker making seven of them.
Toney Douglas scored 16 points, Landry Fields had 14 and Amare Stoudemire finished with 12 for New York, which tried more 3's than 2-point shots (41).
Wade shot 11 for 19 from the field in his return, after missing six games with the ankle issue. The Heat were outscored 54-6 from 3-point range, but held the Knicks to 36 percent shooting and only 18 points in the final quarter.
New York played without Carmelo Anthony, who expects to miss at least two games while dealing with ankle, thumb and wrist problems. Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said Anthony would not return before Tuesday, so barring a change of plans that would rule him out of New York's game at Houston on Saturday.
Wade and James went on a highlight display in the first quarter, setting each other up for dunks in the opening minutes and combining for five slams in Miami's first seven field goals. Wade showed no rust from his layoff, scoring eight points in the first nine minutes.
Miami went to the rim. The Knicks stayed outside -- way outside.
D'Antoni said before the game that the Knicks simply had to manufacture more offense, especially now that Anthony will be sidelined for at least the next few days.
Hence, the game plan -- shoot 3's, and shoot them in bunches.
Of New York's first 33 shots, 19 were from 3-point range. That's right: The Knicks had exactly two 2-pointers in the first 15-plus minutes. Over a stretch of nearly 6 minutes in the first half, the Knicks had 13 consecutive 3-point attempts, nothing inside the arc.
Desperate times, desperate measures, perhaps.
By halftime, the Knicks had tried 23 from long range -- the most in the NBA this season and the most ever in a first half against Miami.
Walker's season high had been 15 points. He got there early in the third quarter on Friday, part of a wild personal burst in which he scored nine points in 69 seconds to give the Knicks a 62-58 lead. He connected on three 3-pointers, banking in the last one from 27 feet, talking animatedly to no one in particular after each one.
The Knicks were so committed to the 3-pointer that on one possession midway through the second half, the 7-foot Chandler had the 6-foot-4 Wade posted up, and kicked the ball to Walker for a corner 3 anyway. A few moments later, Chandler had Wade alone in the post again, no one else within about 3 feet of them, and still didn't get the ball for what likely would have been an easy score or at least trip to the foul line.
By the time the Heat made their first 3-pointer of the night late in the third quarter, New York had made 14 -- a surreal 42-point discrepancy.
New York's plan nearly worked. In the end, the Knicks simply did not have an answer for Wade.
He missed in the lane with 7 minutes left, but tipped in his own rebound for a seven-point lead, Miami's largest of the night. About 2 minutes later, Bosh got the ball to James in transition as Wade called for a lob -- which James perfectly provided for a two-handed dunk and an 88-79 edge that left the Heat firmly in control.
Notes: Celebrities were everywhere, especially from the baseball world. Alex Rodriguez sat courtside with Heat CEO Nick Arison, while Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and one of his former players Miguel Cabrera -- soon to be Detroit's third baseman -- chatted at halftime. Also in the crowd was former Knicks coach and current Florida International boss Isiah Thomas. ... Miami PG Norris Cole was bloodied after getting struck near his left eye in the first half. He returned to play. ... Knicks C Tyson Chandler was back in the building for the first time since helping Dallas win the NBA title in Miami in June. "Good memories and good vibes," said Chandler, who was staying in the same hotel and ate breakfast Friday in the same spot he did during the Mavs' run last season.