Their 102-92 victory Thursday night in a game played in Madison Square Garden and aired on national television was the Knicks’ fourth win over the Heat in the last five meetings between the two rivals.
Over the last two seasons, the Heat’s only victory in the series was 99-93 in Miami last March 3 as win No. 14 in Miami’s 27-game winning streak.
The Heat won seven of eight meetings in the abbreviated 2011-12 season, including taking a a first-round Eastern Conference playoff series in five games.
The Heat lost this time despite leading 48-43 at halftime. The Knicks won the second half 59-44 and took control with a 14-2 run that gave them an 82-71 lead going into the fourth quarter.
The Heat have been responding positively when put in such situations in recent outings, winning their last three games after trailing in the second half.
But this time they couldn’t overcome their own mistakes, including a miserable 11-of-21 performance from the free throw that kept them from mounting a typical rally.
The Knicks compounded the Heat’s woes with their 3-point effectiveness. After making only one of 10 3-point attempts in the first half, the Knicks sunk nine of 14 from behind the arc in the second.
Both teams were without key players, starters Mario Chalmers and Shane Battier for the Heat and J.R. Smith for the Knicks.
Chalmers and Battier were out with injuries. Smith, not a regular starter but the team’s No. 3 scorer, was benched apparently in reaction to the $50,000 fine he received for untying opponents’ shoe laces -- or trying to -- as they stood at the free throw line.
But Dwyane Wade, who was coming off a stretch in which he played three games in four nights, played 39 minutes for the Heat, scoring 23 points on 11-of-15 shooting from the field. He missed all six of his free throw attempts, however.
LeBron James had 32 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists but also was charged with a half-a-dozen turnovers.
With Norris Cole and Rashard Lewis in the starting lineup because of he injuries to Battier and Chalmers, the Heat got only 13 points out of their bench -- six from Ray Allen, five from Michael Beasley, and two from Chris Andersen. Roger Mason Jr. was scoreless.
Amar’e Stoudemire scored 14 off the bench for the Knicks all by himself.
So, what’s it all mean? Team owner Micky Arison summed it up in a tweet to Heat fans: “Everyone CHILL its JAN 9th.”
The Heat are back in action tonight at Brooklyn in another nationally televised affair (ESPN, 8 ET tipoff). It’s the second time in a week they have had to play on consecutive nights. They beat Orlando on the road and Toronto at home last Saturday and Sunday, respectively.