NEW YORK (AP) — Goran Dragic had 20 points, nine assists and seven rebounds, and the Miami Heat breezed to an easy victory a night after going down to the wire, beating the New York Knicks 105-88 on Wednesday night.
Reserve James Johnson added 18 points for the Heat, who began play eighth in the Eastern Conference and a game behind Indiana for seventh as they continue a second-half surge that could carry them to the postseason.
Josh Richardson finished with 17 points as Miami (37-38) improved to 26-8 since an 11-30 start.
Kristaps Porzingis had 20 points and eight rebounds for the Knicks, who were eliminated from postseason contention for the fourth straight season since winning the Atlantic Division in 2012-13. Carmelo Anthony was scoreless in the first half and finished with nine points on 4-of-12 shooting.
The Heat pulled out a 97-96 victory in Detroit on Tuesday on Hassan Whiteside’s tip-in at the buzzer, but had the game under control long before then Wednesday. They led 77-68 after three, then opened the fourth with an 11-2 run, featuring uncontested dunks by Whiteside, James Johnson and Tyler Johnson to open an 88-70 cushion.
The lead grew to 23 later in Miami’s sixth straight victory at Madison Square Garden. The teams meet again Friday in South Florida to complete the home-and-home series.
Derrick Rose sat out with a sore left knee as the Knicks fell for the ninth time in 11 games.
Heat: Miami’s 37 wins tie the most ever by a team that was 19 games under .500 at any point in a season. The 2013-14 Knicks finished 37-45 in the first season of their four-year playoff drought. … The Heat are 12-2 on Wednesdays, their best day of the week.
Knicks: Coach Jeff Hornacek said he thought Rose would play in the game in Miami on Friday. … Anthony took just two shots in the first half.
The NBA’s independent medical expert determined that Joakim Noah was physically able to play, allowing his 20-game suspension for violating the league’s anti-drug policy to begin with Wednesday’s game. Noah was recovering from Feb. 27 left knee surgery when the penalty was announced Saturday and he couldn’t start serving it until he was deemed healthy. Noah will be allowed to practice and travel with the team, but can’t be in the arena during games. The center will miss the last eight games of this season and first 12 of next, but Hornacek said having Noah in practice will be beneficial.
“Some of the things that we’re going over now toward the end of the season, we’re trying to emphasize are maybe a little different than when he was here four weeks ago,” Hornacek said. “So, yeah, any time he’s at practice, it’s going to be good for not only him but the other guys, too.”
RIGHT BACK AT IT
Here’s a change from the usual in the NBA: Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was glad his team was playing on back-to-back nights.
“If it were another day for everybody to exaggerate and overblow what we did yesterday and us to feel too good about ourselves, that wouldn’t be a good recipe,” he said before the game.
The teams play Friday in Miami.
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