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Heat’s Big Three overcome Carmelo’s 42 in 93-85 win over Knicks

By Ira Winderman, Sun Sentinel –

NEW YORK — By the time these teams possibly meet in the opening round of the playoffs, the deck will be reshuffled, with the New York Knicks to have Amare Stoudemire back, and possibly Jeremy Lin as well.

The lesson Sunday, though, was that three of a kind beats ace high every time.

So even with Carmelo Anthony scoring 42 points, the most against the Miami Heat this season, the Heat finally were able to secure a coveted road victory with a 93-85 decision at Madison Square Garden.

“It was a good test for us. It was all about perseverance,” power forward Chris Bosh said. “Hopefully this will give us some momentum.”

Having lost eight of their previous 11 road games, the Heat stepped up with a 12-1 fourth-quarter surge to clinch the Southeast Division title.

Such meager banners, of course, hardly are the goal. The Heat likely would trade in such fabric for a few more confidence-building victories before the end of the regular season.

“It was great to come out on the road and have a game that feels like this, where there is a healthy level of concern coming into the game,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We were able to show a little bit more mental toughness.”

Each of the Heat’s stars stepped forward when needed most.

LeBron James took care of the early scoring, closing with 29 points and 10 rebounds, but more importantly, stifling defense at the end on Anthony, who shot 2 of 7 for seven points in the fourth quarter.

“Down the stretch,” James said, “you just want to wear on him, wear on him, wear on him.”

Then there was Dwyane Wade, who this time played as closer, shooting 4 of 5 in the fourth quarter as part of his 28-point, nine-rebound performance.

He said the close was needed in light of Anthony’s performance.

“Their one great player was very great,” he said.

And then there was Chris Bosh, desperately in need of a signature moment, contributing 16 points and 14 rebounds.

“I’ve been looking for it,” Bosh said of such a breakout moment. “I ain’t gonna lie. I’ve been looking for it, and I’ve got to keep it up.”

Those efforts allowed the Heat to push past Anthony’s effort, which eclipsed Derrick Rose’s 34 as the highest point total against the Heat this season.

Reserve forward Shane Battier, who was not nearly as effective in his defensive shifts against Anthony as James, said the two commiserated at halftime about Anthony’s 22-point first half.

“We talked about you never overreact to two-point jumpers,” he said, with the Heat more concerned about the 10 free throws Anthony took in the opening two periods. “Eventually, you regress to the mean.”

Anthony attempted only five free throws in the second half.

“We put him to the line too often in the first half,” Spoelstra said. “We didn’t want to necessarily overreact to his ability to get those pull-up jump shots.”

Anthony missed five of his last six shots.

“We just didn’t have any flow,” he said. “Maybe that was because they were making shots or getting offensive rebounds. Whatever it was, we weren’t able to get out in transition, where we have been thriving.”

The takeaway from this one was minimal, other than the relief for the Heat of a quality road victory.

“We were struggling to play a complete game on the road,” Wade said, “and what better place to come in and focus than here?”

James downplayed the possibility of a first-round No. 2 vs. No. 7 matchup against the Knicks, noting the loss dropped New York to No. 8 in the East.

The loss snapped the Knicks’ nine-game home winning streak.

The Knicks, nonetheless, apparently would embrace an ensuing best-of-7 round.

“I think we match up with them well,” point guard Baron Davis said. “We are up for the challenge. We like the attention.”

The Knicks again were without Stoudemire, who is dealing with a back condition. The Knicks entered 12-4 in Stoudemire’s absence. Lin is out following a knee procedure, with it unsure whether he can make it back by the start of the playoffs.

The Heat were without former Knicks center Ronny Turiaf, who missed a second consecutive game with a sore left hamstring.

With Stoudemire out, the Heat closed with a 47-33 rebounding advantage.

“To me,” Knicks center Tyson Chandler said, “that is not a team that should necessarily outrebound you.

“Luckily this is not the playoffs. We can use this as a learning tool moving forward.”

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