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Heat Beat Knicks, Make It 14 In A Row

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(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

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Heat In Must-Win Situation In Game 2
CHICAGO (CBSMiami.com) – Forty-eight hours after getting beaten like the end of a ketchup bottle, the Miami Heat are in a must-win situation in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Chicago Bulls. The Heat’s Big Three of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh ended up being the Big 1 and Wade and LeBron. Chris Bosh played well shooting 67 percent from the field, 100 percent from the free throw line and finishing with 30 points and 9 rebounds. But the bigger story for Heat fans was the abysmal play of Dwyane Wade and LeBron James in Game 1. Wade and James shot a combined 12 for 29 for the field and scored 33 points. As anyone who watched the game can attest, that’s simply not going to cut it. It does reveal the Bulls’ game plan for dealing with the Big Three. The Bulls are more than happy to let Bosh score 30-40 a game as long as LeBron and Wade don’t get in a rhythm. But, the Bulls are not an unbeatable team by any stretch of the imagination. The Bulls got a combined 35 points from Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer. Plus, the Bulls dominated on the offensive boards by grabbing 19 to the Heat’s 6. Essentially, the Bulls played the best they possibly could in Game 1 and the Heat played as poorly as they possibly could. The Bulls’ defense was great in Game 1, but now comes the hard part for the Bulls. The Heat is humiliated, angry, and now sees the Bulls’ game plan. The team will have spent three days practicing and watching film to find new ways to attack.
But the Heat needs to have a better plan with their rotation of players. While it’s a given that Joel Anthony, James Jones, and Mario Chalmers will get solid minutes; the Heat need to decide if they want to throw another big man at the Bulls. The Heat can’t count on Udonis Haslem giving them any more than 5-10 minutes a game and he’s still not in good enough shape to really make a big difference. So, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra will have to decide if starting Zydrunas Ilgauskas or Jamaal Magloire will help out by bringing Joel Anthony off the bench as a sparkplug to the team. But the biggest hurdle for the Heat is quite simple. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have to play better. It’s not just about scoring either. Both players have to play better on the defensive end and in transition for the Heat to have any chance of winning. The Heat also absolutely have to crash the boards, even if it does slow down the team’s transition game and cut down on fast break points. If the Heat can cut down on the Bulls’ second-chance points, the game will be completely different in Game 2. In addition, the Heat has to rotate to the ball faster on the defensive end of the floor. It will probably mean less double-teams can be utilized, but the team has to keep a hand in Deng and Boozer’s face throughout the game or run the risk of both of them killing the Heat again. Still, LeBron and D-Wade are not going to play that poorly in back-to-back games. If both players show up ready to play in Game 2, then it should be a strikingly different game in Game 2. And, if the Heat can walk out of Chicago with a victory in Game 2 and bring the series back to Miami tied at one game apiece; then the Heat are in the driver’s seat. On the flip side, if the Bulls take a 2-0 lead in the series after Game 2, then the Heat is in deep trouble and will face very long odds of making it past the Eastern Conference Finals.

NEW YORK (AP) – LeBron James chalked up 29 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists to help the Miami Heat tie a franchise record with their 14th straight victory.

They rallied to beat the New York Knicks 99-93 on Sunday.

Dwyane Wade added 20 points for the Heat, who had to overcome a 16-point deficit to beat the Knicks for the first time in three tries this season. Chris Bosh bounced back from a dismal first half to finish with 16 points.

The defending NBA champions won their sixth straight on the road by controlling the final minutes against a team that had a pair of 20-point victories over them this season and looked ready to run them out of the building again.

Heat Roast Knicks: Click Here to see a slideshow of the game.

But James shook off a third-quarter leg injury and was back in top form by the finish, putting it away by coming up with a steal and throwing down a dunk with 23 seconds left.

Carmelo Anthony scored 32 points for the Knicks, who had their three-game winning streak snapped. Jason Kidd emerged from a lengthy slump to finish with 14 points, eight rebounds and six assists for the Knicks. J.R. Smith had 13 points and 12 rebounds but shot 5 of 18 from the field.

The Heat matched their 14 straight wins during the 2004-05 season and finally beat one of their closest pursuers in the Eastern Conference after dropping their first four against the Knicks and Indiana Pacers.

James landed awkwardly when he was fouled trying to catch a lob pass in the third quarter and was trying to loosen his left knee or leg after. He looked fine in the closing minutes, making key plays on both ends of the floor.

Bosh tied it at 87 and Wade’s basket with 4:29 gave Miami the lead for good. James then blocked Tyson Chandler at the rim and hustled down the floor to put back a Miami miss, making it 91-87.

The Knicks twice were within two, but James scored on a drive the second time. Bosh followed with a jumper for a 97-91 advantage, and after two free throws by Raymond Felton, James ended the Knicks’ final hopes when he stepped in front of pass headed toward Anthony and broke in alone for the slam as Anthony hung his head near halfcourt.

The Knicks beat Miami here by 20 in their season opener and won again in Miami in early December by 20, even while playing without Anthony because of a cut on his finger that required stitches.

This looked headed for another blowout.

Kidd missed all 14 3-point attempts in the last three games and had been in a 7-for-49 slump behind the arc since Feb. 1, finally losing his starting job before Friday’s victory at Washington.

But he made a 3 early in the second quarter, then hit three more during a 20-10 surge that turned Miami’s one-point lead into the Knicks’ 49-40 advantage.

The Knicks then rattled off eight in a row late in the period, opening a 59-43 lead on a free throw by Iman Shumpert with 36 seconds to go. The only concern for the Knicks came when Anthony went to the locker room before the half ended after being hit in the ribs, but was back when the second half started.

Kidd would’ve been perfect in the period, but was credited with a shot attempt when he jumped to save a pass that was going out of bounds along the sideline and just heaved it toward the basket in one motion.

The Knicks’ two victories over the Heat came during their 18-5 start, when they seemed championship capable. But they had been just 17-15 since, falling into a tie for second with Indiana in the East, and were being frequently dismissed as a serious threat to the Heat.

Not by Miami coach Erik Spoelstra, though.

“We know that they’re a direct rival of ours right now and they’ve kicked our butt twice,” Spoelstra said before the game. “Tough in this building and despite what anybody said about them this year, or the struggles, perceived struggles that they may have had in the last few weeks, they’re the sixth-best team in the league, second in the East and they’ve had moments where they’ve beaten the best and have played as well as anybody in this league.”

They did again for half the game, but Miami’s a far different team now than it was in December.
Bosh had eight quick points in the third quarter after a two-point, 1-of-6 first half, as the Heat got within four. The Knicks regrouped and pushed the lead back into double digits, but Miami then scored the last six of the period, cutting it to 77-73 on Shane Battier’s 3-pointer with 1.8 seconds to go.

Miami finally caught up at 79-all when James nailed his second straight 3-pointer, stomping his feet forcefully as he walked away following the second with 10:04 to play.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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