Monday, February 28, 2011

Knicks cool off Heat to mark arrival as  contender

The revamped New York Knicks announced their arrival as an Eastern Conference force with a thrilling 91-86 triumph over the Miami Heat on Sunday.

Still buzzing from last week's blockbuster trade for Carmelo Anthony that teamed the high-scoring forward alongside fellow All-Star Amar'e Stoudemire, the Knicks stole the show from Miami's "Big Three" with a dramatic fourth-quarter rally.

Anthony had a game-high 29 points to outduel LeBron James, who netted 27 but missed a potential game-tying three-pointer in the final seconds.

"I told you when I made this move I wanted to take on new challenges. Tonight was a big challenge for us, a big challenge defensively, but we stood up to that," Anthony told reporters after winning for the second time in three games since joining the Knicks.

"Everyone gave a great effort and as a result we won the game."

Still searching for chemistry with their new roster, the Knicks (30-27) fell behind by 15 in the first half and were down 84-78 with 3:05 to go before taking the lead with a 9-0 run.

Veteran point guard Chauncey Billups, who also came to New York in the Anthony deal, finished with 16 points and put New York in front 85-84 on a 27-foot, three-pointer with one minute left.

Stoudemire finished with 16 points, 10 rebounds and had the game's biggest defensive play, blocking a layup attempt by James with seven seconds left and the Knicks leading by one.

Chris Bosh recorded 20 points and 12 rebounds but Dwyane Wade had just 12 points on five-for-15 shooting for the Heat (43-17), who have lost two of their last three.

New York's trade is expected to revive their rivalry with Miami, which saw the teams meet regularly in the playoffs in the late 1990s.

The Knicks, though, are only sixth in the East and are still looking up at the second-place Heat, who have had the entire season to incorporate their three All Stars.

"We're not quite where we need to be at but it's a big game for us to win," Billups said.