Heat-Knicks Preview

The Associated Press

Much has been made of the Miami Heat's inability to beat teams with winning records on the road.

If they can't find a way Sunday, it might not bode well for their chances of making a run for the championship.

In a potential first-round playoff series preview, the Heat again hope to shake their recent road woes in a matinee against a New York Knicks team looking to reel off a 10th straight victory at Madison Square Garden.

Miami (41-17) bounced back from a 96-86 overtime loss in Chicago on Thursday with an easy 105-82 victory over woeful Charlotte a night later. LeBron James had 19 points and nine assists and got to rest the fourth quarter, while Dwyane Wade sat out the game with a sprained right ankle. Wade is expected to play Sunday.

"It was important for us to get better tonight and get a win,'' James said.

Although Miami got back in the win column, it might not have entirely removed the sting from the defeat at the United Center.

That loss essentially locked the Heat into second place in the Eastern Conference and raised more questions about their problems beating good teams away from Miami. They've lost eight of nine road games against teams with winning records since the All-Star break, with their lone victory coming over rapidly fading Philadelphia.

"We need to play well because we haven't played well after the break on the road," James said looking ahead to Sunday's game at MSG. "I don't know if it's a statement game, but we want to play better than we have on the road. It's a good place to play knowing more than likely we'll play them in the first round."

New York (31-28) took control of seventh in the East with Friday's 103-65 win over Charlotte, coupled with the 76ers' home loss to New Jersey. Friday's lopsided victory was the Knicks' 13th in 17 games and ninth in a row at MSG. This is their longest home winning streak since a 10-game run from Nov. 4-Dec. 22, 1997.

"We want to protect our home court,'' Carmelo Anthony said. "We want to make this one of the toughest places to come in and play and come in and win, and as of late we've been doing that and we want to keep that going.''

New York is outscoring teams by an average of 20.5 points during its home winning streak and limiting opponents to an average of 83.3 points on 38.6 percent shooting while forcing 20.0 turnovers per game.

The Knicks' suddenly stout defense at MSG could pose problems for the Heat, who are averaging 83.8 points and 17.3 turnovers in losing their last four road games to teams over .500.

Miami has won its first two meetings with New York - both at home - but this Knicks team will have a different look, yet again.

The Heat beat New York 99-89 on Jan. 27, but Anthony (wrist) didn't play. Nor did Jeremy Lin, who had not yet become a household name. Lin, Anthony and Amare Stoudemire all played in the second meeting Feb. 23, but Miami prevailed 102-88 behind 25 points from Chris Bosh.

James has totaled 51 points on 52.9 percent shooting in his two games against the Knicks, while Wade has 50 on 51.2 percent shooting.

The Knicks are without Lin (left knee) and Stoudemire (back), but Anthony is having no trouble leading the way.

Anthony took a 30-point average over a nine-game stretch into Friday, before scoring 18 in limited time with his team cruising to a 38-point win.

It likely won't be as easy against Miami.

"It's another big game for us, another exciting game,'' said Anthony, who had 19 points on 7-of-20 shooting in his lone game against the Heat. "It'll be fun, the Garden will be rocking. Everybody will be watching. What better game to play in then Sunday against Miami?''

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