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Saturday, May 5, 2012
Heat blast Knicks, eye sweep
NEW YORK — LeBron James alternated fouls and fumbles, the crowd howling in delight with every one of his mistakes.
Finally forced to sit for most of the third quarter, James wasn't mad, and the Miami Heat weren't worried.
"We had the lead going into the fourth quarter on the road, and then we had the best player in the game coming in. So we were fine," Dwyane Wade said.
And James, over the final 12 minutes, was exceptional.
James scored 32 points, including eight straight to start the fourth quarter and break open the game, and the Heat took a 3-0 series lead, sending the New York Knicks to an NBA postseason-record 13th straight loss, 87-70 on Thursday night.
James had 17 points in the final period for the Heat, who held the short-handed Knicks to eight field goals in the second half and will go for the sweep Sunday afternoon.
"He just has to stay with it," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "He had some turnovers, he had some mistakes but he was able to keep his head in it."
Wade added 20 points for the Heat and Mario Chalmers had 19, hitting consecutive 3-pointers in the fourth quarter when the Heat finally brought some beauty to what had been an ugly game.
"My mindset was to make plays for our team to try and help us win down the stretch," James said. "I was able to come in and make some plays to help us win."
Carmelo Anthony scored 22 points but shot 7 of 23 for the Knicks, who are playing without Amare Stoudemire, Jeremy Lin and Iman Shumpert and needed a super effort from Anthony that he didn't come close to providing.
"When you can't score the basketball, that makes the game extremely hard, no matter how much defense we go down there and play," Anthony said.
The Knicks broke the record set by Memphis from 2004-06. They haven't won a playoff game since April 29, 2001, Game 3 of a best-of-five series against Toronto.
No NBA team has overcome a 3-0 deficit.
"It's a tough one. It's an uphill battle, but it's one we have to go through," center Tyson Chandler said. "Obviously no one wants to be in a hole 0-3, you know in the playoffs especially against a tough team like (Miami), but that's the way it is and we've got to keep fighting."
Chris Bosh had nine points and 10 rebounds hours after the birth of his first child. He flew to New York with the Heat on Wednesday, then quickly hopped on a flight back to Miami after learning his wife was in labor. He returned Thursday afternoon following the birth of his son, arriving at the arena about 30 minutes before the game.
Thunder 95, Mavericks 79
In Dallas, Kevin Durant finally found his postseason shooting touch to get Oklahoma City off to a quick start, and the Thunder never trailed on the way to a victory over the Mavericks which gave them a commanding 3-0 series lead over the defending NBA champs.
After two close games on their home court, the young Thunder ran away with Game 3.
They will run away with the first-round series with one more win. Game 4 is Saturday in Dallas.
"You have to win four. . . . We'll play every game like it's the most important game. We've done that all year and continue to do that," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "(The Mavericks) have pride, they're not going to give you anything. They're going to make you earn it. We earned it."
Even though Durant missed the first shot of the game, Serge Ibaka turned that into a putback basket. Durant then scored nine points in an early 3-minute span, including two 3-pointers and a 17-foot fadeaway, as Oklahoma City took a 14-7 lead.
Durant finished with 31 points on 11-of-15 shooting. The three-time NBA scoring champion was a combined 15 of 44 in the first two games of the series, though he had a game-winning jumper with 1.5 seconds in the opener.
"He was jumping over us and making shots," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said.
Russell Westbrook added 20 points for the Thunder, while Ibaka had 10 points and 11 rebounds and James Harden and Derek Fisher both had 10 points.
Dirk Nowitzki had 17 points to lead Dallas, and Jason Kidd had 12.
The Mavericks have a nearly impossible climb to avoid being the first defending champion knocked out in the first round of the playoffs since Miami five years ago. After beating Dallas in the 2006 NBA Finals, the Heat were swept in four games by Chicago in the opening round of the Eastern Conference playoffs the next season.
No NBA team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-seven series.