MIAMI (AP) — LeBron James took the fourth quarter off. And Miami’s postseason got off to a flying start.
James scored 32 points after shooting 10 for 14 from the field, Dwyane Wade added 19 points in his first game back after dislocating his left index finger and the Heat rode the strength of a 32-2 run to easily beat the New York Knicks 100-67 in Game 1 of the teams’ Eastern Conference first-round series on Saturday.
It was physical, it was heated — and it was one-sided, too.
Mario Chalmers added 11 points and nine assists for Miami, which turned 27 New York turnovers into a franchise playoff-record 38 points. The Knicks were called for 21 fouls in the first half, Miami enjoying a 28-5 advantage in free throws attempted in the first 24 minutes alone, and center Tyson Chandler sent James flying with what was called a flagrant foul as the Heat were blowing the game open in the first half.
“Our guys had a noticeable look in their eyes the last 24 hours,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We wanted to get back to the basics and play to our identity. For the most part, we were able to do that by being aggressive.”
J.R. Smith scored 17 for the Knicks, who lost Iman Shumpert to a knee injury and have dropped 11 straight playoff games dating back to 2001. Carmelo Anthony missed 12 of 15 shots and finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds, and Baron Davis added 10 points for New York.
It was the worst playoff loss for the Knicks since a 126-85 defeat at Chicago on April 25, 1991.
“This series is not over,” Knicks forward Amare Stoudemire said. “We’ve got to learn from our mistakes today and get ready for Monday.”
A 3-pointer by Smith midway through the second quarter got the Knicks within 30-29. And then the tone changed in a hurry.
After all, this is a Heat-Knicks playoff series. It’s almost required to have emotions boil over.
With Jeff Van Gundy and Alonzo Mourning in the building — remember, the Knicks coach once tugged on the Heat center’s leg during one memorable Miami-New York playoff dustup — along with Knicks assistant general manager Allan Houston, he of the game-winner to eliminate the Heat from the last playoffs following a lockout-shortened season of 1999, things got heated once again.
There were early hints that tensions were high, like Stoudemire and Udonis Haslem getting double-technicals after jawing back and forth with 4:10 left in the opening quarter. A few minutes later, after Shane Battier committed a hard foul on Anthony — who missed his first seven shots — Davis ran about 50 feet to give Battier a light shove.
That was all little stuff, compared to what was coming.
“All hell broke loose,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said.
Mike Miller’s 3-pointer with 2:22 left in the half capped a run of 13 straight points by the Heat, and they were just getting started.
Chandler — who helped Dallas win the 2011 title over Miami — set a back pick near midcourt with 1:36 left in the half, one that James never saw coming. James went down holding his neck and gritting his teeth in pain, and the original call was a flagrant-2 against Chandler, which would have meant an automatic ejection.
Referees reviewed the play, downgraded it to a flagrant-1, and during the stoppage James apparently recovered quickly.
He made both free throws awarded for the Chandler shot, then banked in a 20-footer from the left wing while getting hit by Smith 10 seconds later for what became a five-point possession for Miami.
And James still wasn’t done, first hitting a fadeaway with 48 seconds left, then a layup while getting hit by Jared Jeffries with 3 seconds left in the half.
“Spectacular,” Spoelstra said of James’ flurry to end the half. “His play spoke for itself. It seemed on both ends of the court he had his hands on every single play, in some form or another.”
The run then was 24-2. The lead was 54-31. For good measure, the Heat scored the first eight points of the third quarter as well, making it 62-31, and with Woodson along with Anthony getting assessed technicals in the opening 1:39 of the second half.
“Tyson got me pretty good,” James said in a televised halftime interview. “Got a little whiplash in my neck but I’m OK. I mean, it’s playoff basketball.”
A bad day got even worse for the Knicks midway through the third.
Shumpert — who started the final 17 games of the regular season after Jeremy Lin went down with a knee injury — was carried off the court by teammates after going down in almost the exact spot as where the Chandler-James collision took place.
Shumpert was bringing the ball up the right sideline and tried to dribble behind his back when he pulled up and immediately grabbed at his left knee. He was brought into the Knicks’ locker room for evaluation, and as he was lifted from the floor Anthony looked at the scoreboard, shaking his head in disbelief.
James provided the exclamation point with 1.4 seconds left in the third quarter.
He made a 3-pointer over Anthony for his 32nd — and final points — of the day. Through three quarters, the entire Knicks roster had only outscored James by 15, and Miami took an 81-47 lead into the final 12 minutes.
“I think the Miami Heat right now are feeling great about their performance,” Stoudemire said. “Which they should.”
NOTES: Toney Douglas (virus) was inactive for the Knicks. … Lin had a lengthy shooting workout before the game, as he continues to try to recover from knee surgery. … All fans sitting courtside were to receive a version of the Nike sneakers James is wearing in this year’s playoffs. … Woodson was captured by television cameras before the game telling his team in a huddle, “It is a process to win an NBA title.”
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.)