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Knicks take advantage of depleted Heat lineup

The SportsXchange

MIAMI -- Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra admitted looking down the bench at one point Tuesday night and wishing he had LeBron James to defend Carmelo Anthony down the stretch.

But James was unavailable.

Fellow starters Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers were similarly off limits as the Heat -- already having clinched the top seed in the Eastern Conference -- decided to rest their banged-up trio for the second straight game.

The result was Anthony's career-high-tying 50 points and the Knicks' 102-90 win over the Heat at American Airlines Arena.

"I think from the start of the game, it's a feeling you have," Anthony said of his hot shooting, which resulted in making his first seven shots and finishing with 15 points in the first quarter.

Anthony added 12 in the second period, 15 in the third and eight in the fourth.

Normally a .435 shooter from the floor and a .369 marksman on three-pointers, Anthony was far more efficient on Tuesday. He made 18 of 26 shots from the floor and 7 of 10 on 3-pointers. He also made 7 of 8 free throws.

"He was unbelievable," said Knicks center Tyson Chandler, who returned to the starting lineup after missing 10 games because of a neck injury. "He carried us on both ends of the floor. I wanted him to get 50."

Indeed, Anthony made a final-minute jumper with the game well in hand to get to 50 as Chandler and point guard Raymond Felton motioned for their star to come take the ball.

"I knew I was close to 50," Anthony said. "I just wanted to get the game over with.

"My mindset is the same whether (James and Wade) played or not. I wanted to attack early, get something going and win the game."

The Knicks did all of that, extending their winning streak to nine games, the longest active string in the NBA. The Knicks also tied the Indiana Pacers in the battle for the second seed in the Eastern Conference.

Meanwhile, the Heat had its 17-game home win streak snapped. Miami is 32-4 at home this season -- but half of those losses have come against the Knicks.

The Knicks also won the season series with Miami, 3-1.

But forward Chris Bosh, who led the Heat with 23 points, is not worried about a potential playoff matchup with the Knicks -- and any confidence New York may have gained by winning the series.

"Everybody has confidence against us until we take it away," Bosh said. "They're a good team. ... They can feel like they have a chance (in the playoffs), but I like our chances."

With Anthony dominating the score-sheet Tuesday, only J.R. Smith (14 points) and Felton (10 points, game-high 9 assists) scored in double figures.

But the Knicks' second-half defense allowed the team to escape Miami with a win.

After allowing the Heat to shoot 58 percent and score 58 points in the first half, the Knicks improved greatly.

Miami scored just 32 points in the second half. Mike Miller, who had 18 points in the first half, did not score after intermission.

Miller, starting only because of the absence of Wade, blamed his second-half silence on the fact that he has received limited minutes all season.

"I wish I could have carried it over to the second half," Miller said of his 7-of-8 shooting in the first 24 minutes, including 4 of 5 on 3-pointers. "I have to get into shape, and I'll do that."

NOTES: Bosh entered Tuesday shooting .535 from the floor this season. For a full season, his career best is .518 percent. And he's only had two years out of nine in which he has shot over 50 percent. ... Early in the season, the Knicks started two point guards -- Felton and Jason Kidd. But after Kidd wore down and was benched, the Knicks went away from that look. Now, during their recent hot streak, the Knicks are back to that approach with Felton and Pablo Prigioni. ... Spoelstra on the Knicks: "Felton is a tough one to contain, much like what we saw the other night with (San Antonio's) Tony Parker. Then you have to deal with the best scorer in the league (Anthony)." ... The Heat, which have already clinched the best record in the Eastern Conference, are off until Friday's game at Charlotte. Spoelstra said his main objective in the team's final eight games is to make sure Miami is healthy entering the playoffs. ... The Knicks finish their two-game mini trip Wednesday in Atlanta. The Knicks are battling Indiana for the second seed in the Eastern Conference and have a big date with the Pacers April 14 in New York. ... Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was in the crowd.
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