Miami, FL (Sports Network) – Dwyane Wade sparkled in his return to the lineup, scoring 28 points, and the Heat withstood a bevy of three-pointers from New York to earn a 99-89 victory over the short-handed Knicks.
LeBron James totaled 31 points, eight rebounds and seven assists for the Heat, who have won three in a row and six of their last seven games.
Wade, who came back following a six-game absence due to a sprained right ankle, made 11 of his 19 field goal attempts and all six of his foul shots. He also came up with five steals and even blocked a pair of shots.
“This is a very good team with or without me,” Wade said. “I was just trying to be aggressive. I’ve been out for a while. The best way to get your rhythm is by attacking the basket.”
With Carmelo Anthony sidelined because of thumb, wrist and ankle issues, the Knicks tried to beat the Heat with the long distance shot. They were on target, going 18-of-43 from beyond the arc, but were just 12-of-41 on two- point attempts.
Bill Walker was the offensive catalyst, going 7-of-10 from long distance for a 21-point night, but the Knicks suffered their eighth loss in nine games. New York was outscored 42-14 in the paint.
“I’m glad for him because we need him and he’s got to keep improving,” Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said of Walker. “He needs to keep working out his body. He could be the outside guy once we get Carmelo back and give us some more scoring.”
Walker stepped well behind the three-point line several times, making a trio of those shots in a span of 69 seconds in the third quarter, boosting the Knicks to a 62-58 lead. His last one in that sequence caromed off the glass, from 27 feet straight away from the hoop.
But New York’s interior defense couldn’t withstand Wade setting up James for some easy buckets and vice versa. In the final minute of the period, it was James taking command, as the two-time MVP motored down the lane for a lefty layup. That widened the Heat lead to 74-71 going to the fourth.
James winced in pain and looked as his left hand after being called for an offensive foul, when he plowed into Mike Bibby in the closing seconds of the quarter.
Steve Novak’s three tied the game to start the fourth, but Miami came back with an 8-1 burst, capped by Wade’s tip-in.
The sellout crowd at American Airlines Arena came to its feet when James flipped the ball to Wade for a two-handed alley-oop jam. That widened the gap to 88-79 with 4:42 remaining. Miami led by 12 down the stretch.
“If he’s putting on a uniform, I expect greatness out of him,” James said of Wade. “To be out six games and look like basically you didn’t miss a beat, his speed and his stamina were the two things that were like ‘wow.’ It’s good to have him back.”
Early on, it was a dunk fest for Wade and James. The two superstars combined for 18 first-quarter points, but the Knicks, thanks to four threes in the period had it even at 22 after 12 minutes.
Amare Stoudemire, who had 12 points in the game, was 0-for-4 from the field in the first quarter, part of a 2-for-14 effort from inside the arc in the stanza for New York.
“They were keying in on him, but other guys were open,” D’Antoni said. “That’s why they were shooting a lot of shots. He was great because he was just playing the game. He didn’t force anything.”
Miami led 52-48 at the half, and by that time the Knicks had already attempted 23 three-point shots.