MIAMI — The Miami Heat, led by forward LeBron James’ 38 points, overcame a slow start to issue a damaging 102-91 defeat to the New York Knicks Sunday at AmericanAirlines Arena.
New York was led by guard J.R. Smith, who made a franchise record 10 3-pointers in 21 attempts and had 32 points.
Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony was held to 13 points, making just four of 17 shots. He had just two points in the second half.
The Heat took the season series from the Knicks, 3-1.
James scored more than 30 points in all four games. The last player to post four 30-plus games against the Knicks in one season was Michael Jordan in 1996-97.
The Knicks (33-45) fell 1 1/2 games behind the Atlanta Hawks in the battle for the eighth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. The Hawks are also three games ahead in the loss column heading into their game Sunday night at the Indiana Pacers.
Miami (53-23) took a half-game lead over the Pacers in the battle for the top seed in the East, pending Indiana’s game Sunday night.
James extended his lead to 14-12 in his rivalry with Anthony in terms of wins and losses, head-to-head, in their NBA careers.
Anthony, averaged 34 points in his past seven games against Miami, was bothered Sunday by a sore right shoulder that he has described as a “deep bruise” or a light sprain.
The Heat fell behind 16-3 early as they made several turnovers, including three in the first 1:14 — two by James. But Miami battled back to trail just 26-25 after the first quarter.
Miami shot 60 percent in the quarter to help overcome its six turnovers, four of them by James. Those were uncharacteristic mistakes by James, who did have nine points, including a dunk on the Heat’s final possession.
New York fell behind by eight points in the second quarter as Miami was in the midst of a 17-1 run. But the Knicks battled back to take a 50-48 lead at halftime.
Smith had 17 points at the half on six-of-11 shooting, including five of seven on 3-pointers.
James had 16 at the half.
Miami took a 73-64 lead after three quarters as the Knicks’ shooters went cold. The Knicks scored just 14 points — two by Anthony — in the quarter, shooting 26.1 percent from the floor.
NOTES: In Sunday’s first quarter, Knicks SG Tim Hardaway Jr. tried to wrap up Heat F LeBron James on a breakaway. James made the basket anyway and then flexed his massive biceps. … Heat Cs Chris “Birdman” Andersen (knee and back) and Justin Hamilton (cold) sat out Sunday’s game. … Heat SG Dwyane Wade (hamstring) and C Greg Oden (back) sat out their sixth straight game. … The Knicks were happy Wade sat out because he has burned them for a 22.7-points scoring average in three games this season. He has also made 72.1 percent of his shots against the Knicks, his best percentage vs. any team in the NBA. … Heat SG Ray Allen is a finalist for the J. Walter Kennedy Award for community service. Heat C Chris Bosh is a finalist for the Magic Johnson Award given to the player who combines excellence on the court with cooperation with the media and fans. … Miami’s five-game homestand concludes Tuesday vs. the Brooklyn Nets. … The Knicks are off until Friday, when they visit the Toronto Raptors.
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