Miami’s LeBron James scored 32 points, including eight straight to start the fourth quarter and break open the game, as the Heat beat the New York Knicks 87-70 on Thursday to take a 3-0 lead in their NBA first-round playoff series.
The Knicks’ loss set a new and unwelcome postseason record of 13 straight playoff defeats.
James had 17 points in the final period for the Heat, who held the undermanned Knicks to eight field goals in the second half and will go for the series sweep tomorrow.
Dwyane Wade added 20 points for the Heat and Mario Chalmers had 19, hitting consecutive three-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 only seven-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 did not come close to providing.
The Knicks playoff losing skid broke the record set by Memphis from 2004-2006. They have not won a playoff game since 2001.
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.
He came off the bench to start the fourth after sitting most of the third in foul trouble, quickly providing the best offensive stretch in the game. He nailed a three-pointer, followed his own miss, then hit again from behind the arc, turning the Heat’s two-point lead into a 66-56 cushion with 10 minutes, 36 seconds remaining.
The Heat then put it away midway through the period, when Wade made a jumper before Chalmers hit twice in a row from behind the arc to make it 77-62 with 5:40 to play.
Lin is practicing again after knee surgery, but is not ready to return. Shumpert tore a knee ligament in Game 1, and Stoudemire is hoping the hand injury he sustained punching a fire extinguisher case following Game 2 is healed enough to let him play tomorrow.
Chris Bosh had nine points and 10 rebounds hours after the birth of his first child. He flew in on the afternoon of the game and only arrived at the arena 30 minutes before the tipoff.
THUNDER 95, MAVERICKS 79
In Dallas, Texas, Oklahoma City never trailed on the way to a victory over Dallas that delivered a commanding 3-0 series lead over the defending NBA champs.
After two close games on their home court, the young Thunder ran away with Game 3.
They will run away with the first-round series with one more win.
Kevin Durant scored nine points in an early three-minute span, including two three-pointers and a 5.2m fadeaway, as Oklahoma City took a 14-7 lead.
Durant finished with 31 points on 11-of-15 shooting. The three-time NBA scoring champion was a combined 15-of-44 in the first two games of the series, though he had a game-winning jumper with 1.5 seconds in the opener.
Russell Westbrook added 20 points for the Thunder, while Serge Ibaka had 10 points and 11 rebounds and James Harden and Derek Fisher both had 10 points.
Dirk Nowitzki had 17 points to lead Dallas, and Jason Kidd had 12.
The Mavericks have a nearly impossible climb to avoid being the first defending champion knocked out in the first round of the playoffs since Miami five years ago.
No NBA team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-seven series.