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Heat Beat Rival Knicks 106-98

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MIAMI (AP) – No blowout this time for the Miami Heat. They can beat the Knicks with a grind-it-out finish, too.

Dwyane Wade scored 15 of his season-high 40 points in the fourth quarter, LeBron James and Chris Bosh each finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds, and the Heat held off a late comeback to beat New York 106-98 on Tuesday night, Miami’s 15th win in its last 16 games overall and its seventh straight over the Knicks.

Wade hit a step-back 3-pointer with less than 2 minutes left to stop one New York run, and James essentially sealed it by blowing past Danilo Gallinari for a layup and seven-point lead with 40 seconds remaining.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas scored 14 points and added 10 rebounds for the Heat, who won by 22 in New York on Dec. 17 and led this one by 22 as well — then held off a big challenge down the stretch.

Amare Stoudemire scored 30 points for the Knicks, who lost for the fourth time in their last six games. Wilson Chandler scored 21 for New York, which got 15 from Raymond Felton, 13 from Gallinari and 11 from Toney Douglas.

“These guys are playing as well as anybody,” Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said of the Heat before the game, “if not the best.”

At times Tuesday, those words rang particularly true.

Stoudemire had a tip-in to make it 97-93 with 2:02 left, and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra drew a technical for arguing from referee David Guthrie that it should have been offensive interference. Felton hit the free throw and suddenly, it was a one-possession game.

Wade wasn’t worried.

His 3-pointer made the lead six again, and about a minute later, he went to the floor to collect a key rebound. James went left and past Gallinari with ease on the ensuing possession, and Miami held on.

The Heat outrebounded New York 50-32, and put their 14th win of December in the books.

Both teams play an up-tempo, get-out-and-go style, the Knicks coming in leading the NBA at nearly 108 points per game, the Heat averaging nearly 101.

So naturally, it was a 7-foot-3 guy who isn’t exactly a speed demon who stole the early show.

By the time the game was 8 1/2 minutes old, Ilgauskas had 12 points — to Stoudemire’s two — and nine rebounds. Everything was around the rim for Ilgauskas, who had only scored more than 12 points in one game this season, forget doing it in nary a few minutes against a legitimate MVP candidate in Stoudemire.

His spree helped Miami run out to a 34-15 lead late in the first, and that was all before Bosh even hit the scoring column.

Stoudemire starting hitting his stride in the second quarter, getting nine points, but the Knicks never got within 10 even while Miami managed just one field goal in the first 5 minutes of the period. It was 53-40 Heat at the half, and things likely seemed comfortable to the standing-room-only crowd.

They were not.

The Knicks had scored 100 points or more in 12 of their last 13 games, Miami’s pre-Christmas trip to Madison Square Garden being the only exception, and came out flying in the third quarter. Felton banged his knee near midcourt with 8 minutes left, recovered while keeping his dribble and threw an alley-oop pass to Chandler to get the Knicks within 57-49 — the closest New York had gotten since 4:01 remained in the opening period.

Felton hit a jumper 2 minutes later to cut the margin to 61-55, before Wade kick-started a Heat rally. A jumper from the left corner, followed by a gliding layup around Gallinari, restored Miami’s double-digit lead, and the margin eventually reached 80-63 when James Jones hit three free throws with 32 seconds left in the third.

And when New York closed to eight again midway through the final quarter, the Heat quickly salvaged breathing room.

James found Wade for a jumper, then collected another assist on Miami’s next possession, setting up Mario Chalmers’ short jumper that put Miami up 92-80 with 6 minutes left.

(© 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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