Behind Dwyane Wade, Hassan Whiteside and newcomer Joe Johnson, the Miami Heat used a decisive 29-16 fourth quarter to defeat the New York Knicks 98-81 and bounce back from two consecutive losses. With this win, the Heat remained in fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
Prior to the fourth period, the Heat allowed the Knicks to make runs to make the game much closer than it should have been. But the 7-foot Whiteside nailed a couple jumpers to open the fourth -- a recent addition to his repertoire -- to keep the Knicks at bay. Wade and Amar'e Stoudemire returned to the game midway through the fourth and iced the game, getting into the lane to balloon Miami's lead.
Wade scored 26 points on 9-of-20 shooting from the field -- including one burst of buckets in the third quarter -- and 8-of-10 shooting from the foul line. The 2006 NBA Finals MVP also added seven rebounds, six assists and two steals. Wade even had an explosive dunk on the break in the first quarter. Once again, the Heat's franchise player put on a show at Madison Square Garden.
But another key contributor for the Heat just joined the team yesterday, Joe Johnson. The seven-time All Star was in the starting lineup Sunday evening and hit his very first attempt -- a 3-pointer. (That 3 was actually Miami's only triple of the evening; the Heat went 1-of-8 from beyond the arc and still won.) Johnson finished with 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting from the field, as he seamlessly inserted himself into the offense. The former Brooklyn Net also defended Carmelo Anthony quite well. Not bad for a debut with a new team.
Several other players propelled the Heat to this much-needed win after Saturday's loss to the Boston Celtics. Luol Deng continued to thrive as a power forward, making smart cuts to the basket for a 15-point performance on 7-of-12 shooting from the field. Deng also grabbed seven boards.
Hassan Whiteside added a double-double, scoring 16 points on 7-of-13 shooting and grabbing 11 boards in 26 minutes. Whiteside had an array of moves for the Knicks on Sunday -- he had a ferocious slam and stare-down in the second quarter and a 20-foot jumper in the fourth period. Whiteside even brought the ball up court in one semi-transition possession, and Deng had an easy layup at the end of it.
Rookies Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson joined Whiteside as Miami's second unit and offered some energetic stretches for the Heat to rest Wade and Goran Dragic. For his part, Winslow went scoreless but grabbed 13 boards off the bench.
And Richardson once again impressed. The rookie guard played 30 minutes off the bench and went 3-of-6 from the field to score eight points. He was able to control much of the ball-handling duties, relieving Dragic and Wade when necessary. Dragic added 13 points and six assists for the Heat.
The Heat will host the Chicago Bulls Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.