James nets 32 as Heat roast Knicks
LeBron James dropped to the floor holding the back of his head, grimacing and then staggering a bit when he reached his feet.
A few moments later, he was fine.
And a few moments after that, the Miami Heat had complete control of Game One against the New York Knicks.
James scored 32 points after shooting 10 for 14 from the field and the Heat rode the strength of what became a 32-2 run to easily beat the Knicks 100-67 on Saturday night, striking first in the series between clubs that waged classic annual battles from 1997 through 2000 and are meeting for the first time since.
Dwyane Wade added 19 points in his first game back after dislocating his left index finger.
''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.''
No, this wasn't redemption for falling short in last season's finals. But for James and the Heat, it sure was a fine start.
''I'm a different player this year, a different person this year compared to last year,'' James said. ''I've waited to get back to the postseason, prepared myself all season, throughout the offseason to get back to this point.''
It was physical, it was heated - and it was one-sided. New York's 67 points matched a franchise playoff low.
Mario Chalmers finished with 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 centre Tyson Chandler sent James flying with what was called a flagrant foul as the Heat were blowing the game open.
J.R. Smith scored 17 for the Knicks, who lost Iman Shumpert to a torn knee ligament 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 play-off 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.''
CHICAGO 103, PHILADELPHIA 91
CHICAGO: Derrick Rose crumbled to the floor, clutching his left knee. His season is over and the Bulls' title hopes just might be finished, too. Rose will miss the rest of the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee late in Chicago's 103-91 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers in Saturday's playoff opener, casting a big cloud over a team eyeing a championship run.
He scored 23 points and was playing more like the league's reigning MVP after missing 27 games because of injuries during the regular season, but his injury-plagued season came to an end as the Bulls were wrapping up an impressive victory. Game 2 is tomorrow in Chicago.
THUNDER 99, MAVERICKS 98
OKLAHOMA CITY: Kevin Durant scored 25 points and hit the game-winning jumper from the foul line with 1.5 seconds left to lift Oklahoma City Thunder over Dallas in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series. Durant manoeuvred to the free-throw line and got off a high-arcing shot over Shawn Marion that hit off the front of the rim and then off the backboard before falling through.
The defending NBA champion Mavericks, who were out of timeouts, could not get a shot off before the buzzer. Dirk Nowitzki scored 11 of his 25 points in the final five minutes and hit two free throws with nine seconds left to put Dallas ahead. Russell Westbrook led the Thunder with 28 points.
MAGIC 81, PACERS 77
INDIANAPOLIS: Jason Richardson and Jameer Nelson scored 17 points apiece to help sixth-seeded Orlando, playing without Dwight Howard, surprise the third-seeded Pacers in Game 1 of the first-round Eastern Conference playoff series.
Howard, the Magic's leading scorer and the league's top rebounder, will miss the rest of the season after having back surgery.
Game 2 is Monday in Indianapolis.