THE MIAMI HEAT are one win away from the NBA Eastern Conference semi-finals after a 87-70 victory over the New York Knicks on Thursday.
Miami’s LeBron James blew New York away in the first two minutes of the final quarter.
The Heat led 58-56 at the third break, but James scored eight points at the beginning of the fourth quarter, including two three-pointers to build a 10-point lead for Miami.
The visitors scored 29 points to 14 in the final quarter, including 17 points from James, to beat the Knicks and take a 3-0 lead in the playoff series.
James top-scored for Miami with 32 points, while Dwyane Wade could have more than his 20 points had he not unselfishly laid off for James (see 0.30 mark of the video). Mario Chalmers (19 points) chipped in with their own handy contributions. For New York, Carmelo Anthony managed 22 points and JR Smith came off the bench to score 12.
After a tight first quarter, the Knicks pushed ahead in the second quarter to lead by four points at half-time. But a strong second half from the Heat, including their utterly dominant final quarter, ensured New York lost their 13th successive playoff match.
Miami can secure their place in the Eastern Conference semi-finals with another victory in New York on Saturday.
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In Thursday’s other playoff clash, the Oklahoma City Thunder also took a 3-0 series lead with a comfortable 95-79 win over the Dallas Mavericks.
The Thunder outscored the home side in the first three quarters to set up the victory.
Kevin Durant was again the most prolific scorer for Oklahoma City with 31 points, including four three-pointers. The Thunder also got top performances out of Russell Westbrook (20 points) and Serge Ibaka (10 points, 11 rebounds).
YouTube credit: OllieKnight9
For Dallas, Dirk Nowitzki top-scored with 17 points, while veteran point guard Jason Kidd chipped in with 12. Oklahoma City can eliminate the Mavericks from the 2012 NBA playoffs with another win on Saturday.