LeBron James and Dwyane Wade combined for 57 points to help the Miami Heat overcome the New York Knicks 93-85 on Sunday and clinch the Southeast Division in a possible preview for the NBA playoffs.
James, who scored 29 points, and Wade, who poured in 28, teamed up down the stretch to turn a 79-75 fourth-quarter deficit into an 87-80 lead with a 12-1 Miami run that lifted the Heat to a 42-17 record.
Despite 42 points from Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks dropped to 31-29 and back to eighth place for the last playoff berth in the Eastern Conference with six regular season games to go. New York had been 13-4 under interim head coach Mike Woodson.
If the Knicks finish seventh in the East, they could play the second-seeded Heat in the first round of the playoffs, although they may prefer not.
Miami, also boosted by Chris Bosh’s 16 points and game-leading 14 rebounds, completed a three-game sweep of their season series with the Knicks and would have home-court advantage for the best of seven series. With the odds slim of catching the Chicago Bulls (45-14) for top seeding in the East, the Heat are focusing on getting playoff-ready and James and Wade were particularly pleased with reversing a recent Miami trend.
“We needed to play better on the road,” said James. “We know what it takes to win in the playoffs. It meant a lot [to win] today because of how we’ve been playing since the break on the road.”
The Heat, who fell in the NBA Finals last season to the Dallas Mavericks, had wilted with eight losses in 12 games away from home since the All-Star break in late February.
“We were struggling to play a complete game on the road, and what better place to come in and focus than here,” said Wade, who was returning to the court after missing a game with a sore ankle.
Other NBA results: LA Lakers 112, Dallas 108, OT; Sacramento 104, Portland 103; Toronto 102, Atlanta 86; Orlando 100, Cleveland 84; Boston 94, Charlotte 82; Chicago 100, Detroit 94, OT; New Orleans 88, Memphis 75; and Denver 101, Houston 86.