NEW YORK — LeBron James scored 32 points, including eight in a row to start the fourth quarter and break open the game, and the Miami Heat took a 3-0 lead, sending the New York Knicks to an NBA postseason-record 13th consecutive 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.
Dwyane 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.
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.
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.
In a sloppy game between two star-studded teams, Miami went 10 minutes without a field goal in the second half, followed by the Knicks managing just three baskets in the third quarter.
Then James took over.
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 after the birth of his son, arriving at the arena about 30 minutes before the game.
HAWKS: Forward Josh Smith said his ailing left knee was feeling better Thursday, and he was not ruling out being able to play against the Boston Celtics in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Smith walked out of Philips Arena without a noticeable limp from his strained tendon, though he conceded it was still quite sore. He’s always had a high tolerance for pain – this season, he played all 66 games despite some lingering tendinitis in his knees – and remained hopeful that he would be able to contribute at least a few minutes when the series returns to Boston today.
“It’s getting better and better each and every day,” Smith said. “I’ll probably go a good little bit harder that I normally do at shootaround to see how it feels.”
The Hawks, who are tied 1-1 with the Celtics, will be in a dire predicament if Smith can’t go. He averaged 18.8 points a game and the team is already missing two other big men, centers Al Horford and Zaza Pachulia.
Pachulia revealed details about his injured left foot for the first time Thursday. He said there’s a chipped bone, with doctors putting the normal recovery time at 4 to 6 weeks. He was injured three weeks ago.