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Heat, Bosh step up late, shove aside Knicks 109-95

Ira Winderman
Contact ReporterSouth Florida Sun Sentinel
Chris Bosh steps up in absence of Wade

The Miami Heat had been here before, up comfortably in the fourth quarter against a team essentially playing with ping-pong balls.

Last week, it was a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter that turned into a road loss to the West-worst Minnesota Timberwolves.

This time, the advantage was eight early in the fourth quarter against the East-worst New York Knicks. And then it was down to four.

And then in this season of home haplessness and losses to the dregs of the NBA, the Heat said enough on Monday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.

No, a 109-95 victory over the Knicks doesn't resonate very much these days in the NBA.

But with the Heat without Dwyane Wade for a sixth consecutive game due to a strained right hamstring, and having already endured home humiliation this season against the likes of the Philadelphia 76ers, Orlando Magic and Utah Jazz, this was a welcomed  relief.

"It was good to be on the other end of that at home," coach Erik Spoelstra said.

Going big instead of going bust, the Heat got strong finishes from Chris Bosh and Chris Andersen to snap a three-game losing streak.

"It was a good night tonight." Said Bosh who led the Heat with 32 points. "I want us to learn from it."

In overcoming a 14-point first-quarter deficit, the Heat wound up with their largest comeback victory of the season. It was only the second time this season that had overcome a deficit of 10 or more, having come back from 13 down in a road victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.

"We made shots, the ball was moving, everybody got involved and we didn't have turnovers," guard Norris Cole said.
Point guard Mario Chalmers added 18 points for the Heat, Cole and forward Luol Deng 12 apiece, and Andersen 10.

"Obviously C.B. was in a great rhythm, not only for his offense, but he was our playmaker," Spoelstra said, with the six assists Bosh's high as a member of the Heat.

Bosh and Andersen played so well late, it allowed Spoelstra to keep center Hassan Whiteside on the bench in the fourth quarter, after Whiteside missed Friday's loss to the San Antonio Spurs but then energized the Heat in Monday's third quarter.

"It's 48 minutes of center basketball," Spoelstra said of what the Heat have become.

Forward Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 26 points, leaving for the locker room in the fourth quarter with a knee issue.

"He was hitting some crazy shots early," Deng said. "We just said, 'Stick with the same D.' "

A Chalmers 3-pointer just before the close of the third period allowed the Heat to take a 77-74 lead into the fourth. The shot by Chalmers lifted the Heat to 8 of 17 on 3-pointers to that stage. They closed 12 of 22 from beyond the arc.

The Heat got a boost from Whiteside in the third, making all three of his shots in the period after missing his only shot of the first half. But he also was forced to the bench with 3:52 left in the third with his fourth foul. That whistle also led to a technical foul on Whiteside. Whiteside closed with seven points and nine rebounds. He did not re-enter after that fourth foul.

With Whiteside scoreless and taking only that one shot in the first half, the Heat trailed 56-52 at the intermission, after again trailing by double digits in the second period.

Limiting Anthony to four points on 1-of-4 shooting in the second period and getting 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting from Bosh in the quarter, the Heat were able to trim what had been a 14-point deficit to four at the break.

It was yet another shaky home start for the Heat, this time with the Knicks pushing to a 26-14 lead, extending that margin to 14, and taking a 32-23 advantage into the second period.

Anthony opened 5 of 5 from the field and 4 of 4 on 3-pointers, getting most of those early baskets in transition, before Deng could set up defensively.

Bosh shot 1 of 6 in the first quarter.

On a night the Knicks had 15 healthy players for the first time this season, the Heat again had to scramble with their rotations.

Not only was Wade out, but Spoelstra this time also without forwards James Ennis and Shawne Williams, with Ennis sustaining a knee injury after a hard fall in Friday's road loss to the San Antonio Spurs and Williams out again with a hip ailment.

With Ennis out, Spoelstra again had Danny Granger in his rotation, after holding Granger out in San Antonio.

Shabazz Napier again started in place of Wade, with Heat reserve power forward able to make his 750th career regular-season appearance after injuring his left wrist in the loss to the Spurs.

The game was the lone home appearance for the Heat in a stretch of seven games, with Wednesday's game in Cleveland up next and the nine-day All-Star break to follow before a rematch with the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

This was the second game of the three-game season series and the Knicks' lone visit of the season to AmericanAirlines Arena. The Heat won the first meeting 86-79 Nov. 30 at Madison Square Garden, with Wade scoring 27 points.

The Heat have now won five in a row from the Knicks, after losing four of the previous five.

With the victory the Heat improved to 9-15 at home.

"A lot of energy, with a lot of guys involved," Spoelstra said.

iwinderman@tribpub.com. Follow him at twitter.com/iraheatbeat or facebook.com/ira.winderman.

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