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Friday, May 11, 2012
High-powered Heat finish off Knicks
MIAMI — The final horn sounded, and LeBron James wrapped his arms around Carmelo Anthony in a warm embrace.
Their head-to-head scoring matchup in this series was even, 139 points apiece.
Just about everything else tipped Miami's way — so the Heat are moving on and the New York Knicks are going home.
James had 29 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade both scored 19 points and Miami ousted the shorthanded Knicks 106-94 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference first-round series Wednesday night.
The Heat won the series 4-1, and will meet Indiana in the East semifinals starting Sunday in Miami.
"We do not take this for granted," Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. "This was a tough series. We feel very good about moving on and it'll only get tougher from here."
For the Heat, it was only the first step. The reigning East champions have one goal — getting back to the finals and winning it all — and that was likely why even beating the franchise's longtime rival prompted, at most, a subdued celebration.
"We will savor this win tonight," James said. "And then we get to work tomorrow and get ready for Indiana."
Anthony scored 35 points for the Knicks, including a spinning jumper over James at the end of the third quarter that pulled New York within 81-67. It was far from being enough to stave off an all-too-familiar playoff result for Anthony, part of that 2003 draft class that also yielded James, Bosh and Wade.
Anthony has played 54 postseason games, being part of wins only 17 times. A misleading stat for certain — it's hardly all on him — and no shortage of people in the Heat organization interrupted their celebrating of a series-clincher to tip their caps Anthony's way afterward.
"We fought, under the circumstances," Anthony said. "I'm not one to make any excuses for anything. . . . But Miami, they're a tough defensive team. They stick to what their schemes are."
James shot 48 percent from the field in the series, Anthony shot 42 percent. James averaged 6.2 rebounds and 5.6 assists, Anthony averaged 8.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists.
"It was fun, man," James said. "He's one of the most competitive players I've ever played against in a playoff series."
Amare Stoudemire scored 14 points, Landry Fields and J.R. Smith both added 12, Mike Bibby had 10 and Tyson Chandler grabbed 11 rebounds for New York, which is 1-8 in playoff games with Anthony and Stoudemire as teammates.
"Miami is a very good team," Stoudemire said. "You have to give credit to them."
Stoudemire fouled out with 4:48 left, and the Knicks put together one more run with hopes of extending the season. New York cut the margin to 11 points four times in a 2-minute span, but Miami answered every time, the last of those a 3-pointer by Shane Battier with 54 seconds left.
That sent the white seat covers flying in all corners of the arena, the fans knowing it was finally over.
"There's a lot of pride that takes place in this kind of series," Wade said. "Even though it was a five-game series, it was a very tough series to win. . . . I thought it helped us. You couldn't overlook this team."
Grizzlies 92, Clippers 80
In Memphis, Marc Gasol scored 23 points and Zach Randolph added 19 as the Grizzlies avoided elimination by beating Los Angeles to force a Game 6 in the Western Conference first-round series.
With Gasol and Randolph scoring early, the Grizzlies looked like the team that knocked off top-seeded San Antonio last spring and took Oklahoma City to seven games in the conference semifinals.
Game 6 is Friday night in Los Angeles. If the Grizzlies can win, Game 7 would be on Sunday in Memphis.
Rudy Gay added 14 points for the Grizzlies.
Mo Williams had 20 points for the Clippers, while Chris Paul scored 19 and Blake Griffin had 15 points and 11 rebounds. Paul and Griffin both missed time in the fourth quarter with injuries.
Paul strained his right hip flexor and appeared to jam a finger, while Griffin hyperextended his left knee.
Paul almost singlehandedly gave the Clippers a chance to close out this series by scoring eight of his 27 points in overtime of Game 4.
This time, the four-time All-Star guard had just five points by halftime and scored nothing in this fourth quarter. He was grimacing early in the fourth quarter and was on the bench with the injured right groin. An injured groin kept him out of the Clippers' regular-season finale, a loss to New York that cost Los Angeles the No. 4 seed.
The Clippers came in needing a win to clinch their first series since 2006 and advance to a second-round series against top-seeded San Antonio. But even though Paul has plenty of postseason experience, this was the first close-out game for the likes of Griffin, Randy Foye and DeAndre Jordan.
Los Angeles last led at 17-16 before a fastbreak layup by Tony Allen that was set up by a long pass from Gasol put Memphis ahead to stay at 18-17 with 5:40 left in the first quarter.
The Clippers closed the third quarter with a 14-2 run and got within six twice to conjure up memories of Memphis blowing a 27-point lead in Game 1. Foye pulled the Clippers within 85-79 on a layup with 55.7 seconds left.
With CP3 on the bench, that was as close as they would get.