Roundup: Heat Look To Game 5

MIAMI – Based on callers to radio sports-talk shows and some fan comments on social media here, one would think the Miami Heat are the ones on the brink of elimination from the N.B.A. playoffs.

But inside American Airlines Arena, the vibe from the players and Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra is quite the opposite. Two days removed from a tough 89-87 loss to the Knicks in Game 4 of their first-round matchup, Spoelstra, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are looking forward, not backward.

”You try to stick to the one-day rule as much as possible, but you know when you get back in the gym and it’s time to learn from it you still learn from it,” said Wade, whose last-second 3-pointer in Game 4 hit the front of the rim. ”After you leave here it’s out the window and you get prepared to play the next game.”

Wade and James were not about to be baited into reliving that final play and questioning who should have taken the last shot. The reality is, the Knicks trail, three games to one, in the best-of-seven series, and the Heat, the defending Eastern Conference champions, would like nothing better than to close out the series Wednesday night at home.

Spoelstra took the topic of that final possession head on, smiling throughout his answer as he explained the unique dynamic facing the Heat.

”We understand the decibel level of the noise will increase from outside any time we lose, but we have to stay true to our reality,” he said. ”Without getting too descriptive on what we were looking for, at the end of the day we had an open lane on that drive. We’ve seen Dwyane make those plays time and time again over the years. We’ll live with that. In the paint he lost the dribble but it was a pretty good opportunity to attack the rim. They defended him, it became a broken play, and we know what happened.”

There was a quiet confidence about the players at the end of practice and everyone appeared loose, with James trying unsuccessfully to distract Wade during his session with the news media after missing a free throw. He smiled widely and laughed while trying to get Wade’s attention, but Wade never took his eyes off the reporter who asked him a question.

James is well aware of how important it is to have a short memory in the N.B.A. playoffs, and that’s the approach he is taking heading into Wednesday night’s potential series-clinching game.

”You carry it with you for 24 hours, you go over what needs to be done to correct it, and you get rid of it,” James said. ”I’m not saying that you don’t care about it, but you’ve got to move on to the next game. You can’t let it linger too much. Game 4 for us is over. We’re preparing for Game 5 now.”

PAUL TAKES CHARGE One day after Chris Paul’s 27th birthday, he and the Los Angeles Clippers showed they are growing up splendidly together.

Paul scored 8 of his 27 points in a dynamic overtime performance, and the Clippers moved to the verge of their second playoff series victory in 36 years, taking a 3-1 series lead with a 101-97 win Monday night over the Memphis Grizzlies in Los Angeles.

The Clippers blew a 10-point lead late in regulation before finishing without Blake Griffin, who fouled out midway through overtime. It could have been another disaster for a franchise with more than its share, but Paul did not allow it.

”It’s fun, it’s exciting,” said Paul, who missed a chance to score at the regulation buzzer.

”The worst mistake I probably made in the game was not getting the shot at the end of regulation,” he added. ”If I was at home watching it on TV, I’d be talking so bad about me. But you’ve got to get through it. The thing about it is that I have teammates that have confidence in me. Everything that we do is a team win.”

Maybe so, but the Clippers were happy to rely on Paul, their All-Star point guard.

Griffin had 30 points and 7 assists before fouling out for the Clippers, who blew an 84-74 lead over the final four and a half minutes before Paul took charge in extra time. ”He’s a great player, and that’s what great players do,” Memphis Coach Lionel Hollins said.

Game 5 is Wednesday night in Memphis.

This is a more complete version of the story than the one that appeared in print.

Knicks Escape to Play Another Day

“11:00 a.m. — Film.”

“3:00 p.m. — To South Beach.”

A strange and twisting season that by all rights should have ended Sunday afternoon will instead last another few days, after a soul-cleansing 89-87 victory over the that kept the Knicks’ playoff hopes alive, if by the narrowest of margins.

The Knicks still trail in the first-round series, three games to one. But that one is bursting with meaning and satisfaction: the franchise’s first playoff win since 2001. The end of a humiliating drought that lasted an N.B.A.-record 13 games and consumed countless coaches and would-be saviors. The first playoff triumph for and Amar’e Stoudemire as teammates.

“The first of many,” Stoudemire promised.

His first chance to make good on that promise will come Wednesday, in Game 5 at American Airlines Arena in Miami. History suggests the Knicks cannot make it out of this series, but this was not a day to doubt Stoudemire’s resolve or Anthony’s determination.

Anthony was brilliant in the late stages Sunday, driving the Knicks to victory with 41 points, including a 12-point fourth quarter and a huge 3-pointer in the final minute. Stoudemire — who nearly ended his season with a self-inflicted laceration of his left hand after Game 2 — earned a fantastic bit of redemption, with 20 points and 10 rebounds, and a critical free throw with 14.8 seconds to go.

That foul shot gave the Knicks a 2-point edge and put the pressure on Miami in the final seconds. The Heat’s last possession ended with Dwyane Wade putting up an off-balance, turnaround 3-point shot in front of the Knicks’ bench as time expired.

The ball clanked off the rim, and thousands of blue and orange streamers cascaded from the rafters, a moment many years overdue.

Stoudemire and Anthony made 23 of the Knicks’ 32 field goals, their most meaningful tag-team effort since they became teammates 15 months ago. Anthony, who had been bottled up and flustered by and Shane Battier all series, unleashed the frustration with a series of timely drives, playing like the star the Knicks were promised.

“He wasn’t ready to go home,” Coach Mike Woodson said, smiling broadly.

At a minimum, the Knicks avoided a sweep. Now comes the toughest part: winning in Miami, where they are 0-4 this season. No N.B.A. team has won a playoff series after trailing by 3-0, and a vast majority (90 out of 100) have lost in four or five games.

The Knicks’ odds will be even longer, after they lost Baron Davis to a season-ending knee injury Sunday. Davis dislocated his right kneecap during a third-quarter rally, becoming the second Knicks guard to go down in the series. Iman Shumpert tore his left anterior cruciate ligament in Game 1.

Mike Bibby will probably start at point guard in Game 5, with J. R. Smith as the de facto backup and Toney Douglas as an emergency reserve. It is conceivable that Jeremy Lin, who has been recovering from knee surgery, could be available. The Knicks were not prepared to make that leap yet.

After losing the first three games of this series by double digits, and a combined 60 points, the Knicks played with a focused desperation. For the first time, they played a meaningful and riveting fourth quarter.

Anthony scored on back-to-back layups for a 78-75 lead. James, who had a team-high 27 points, hit two free throws to give Miami a 79-78 lead. Anthony tied the game at 79-79 (on a free throw) and again at 81-81 (on a 15-footer). Bibby hit a 3-pointer for an 84-81 lead. Miami tied the game on a 3-pointer from James.

Then, with the shot clock running down and fans screaming nervously, Anthony hit a 3-pointer over Battier — his designated tormentor in the series — giving the Knicks an 87-84 lead with 54.5 seconds left.

Anthony had the chance to put the game away on the next possession, when Battier fouled him on a 3-point attempt. But he missed the first two free throws, then sank the third for a 4-point lead.

James cut the margin to 1 point with a 3-point play.

Stoudemire was widely criticized by fans and commentators last week after his impulsive smashing of a fire-extinguisher case following Game 2 in Miami. He needed surgery to repair a torn muscle and had been considered doubtful to play again in the series.

Before tip-off, Stoudemire was introduced last, his customary slot, and was welcomed back with a forgiving roar. Hope, not anger, was the predominant feeling Sunday.

“I didn’t really feel like I had something to prove,” he said, adding, “It makes me feel better that we won.”

REBOUNDS

Iman Shumpert attended his first game since having knee surgery and vowed to come back stronger next season. “I don’t have any fear,” he said Sunday. “I know when I get back, I hope that this leg is better than ever. It’s going to be stronger than ever.” Shumpert, the Knicks’ best perimeter defender, is expected to need six to eight months to recover. He can only wonder how different the series might have looked had he been on the court. “We could do that, go back and forth with that all the time — if Stat’s healthy, if Jeremy’s healthy,” he said, referring to Amar’e Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin. “But it’s like who we got out there is who we got out there. I still think we’re good enough to beat them.”

OFF THE DRIBBLE; Roundup: Heat Look To Game 5

MIAMI – Based on callers to radio sports-talk shows and some fan comments on social media here, one would think the Miami Heat are the ones on the brink of elimination from the N.B.A. playoffs.

But inside American Airlines Arena, the vibe from the players and Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra is quite the opposite. Two days removed from a tough 89-87 loss to the Knicks in Game 4 of their first-round matchup, Spoelstra, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are looking forward, not backward.

”You try to stick to the one-day rule as much as possible, but you know when you get back in the gym and it’s time to learn from it you still learn from it,” said Wade, whose last-second 3-pointer in Game 4 hit the front of the rim. ”After you leave here it’s out the window and you get prepared to play the next game.”

Wade and James were not about to be baited into reliving that final play and questioning who should have taken the last shot. The reality is, the Knicks trail, three games to one, in the best-of-seven series, and the Heat, the defending Eastern Conference champions, would like nothing better than to close out the series Wednesday night at home.

Spoelstra took the topic of that final possession head on, smiling throughout his answer as he explained the unique dynamic facing the Heat.

”We understand the decibel level of the noise will increase from outside any time we lose, but we have to stay true to our reality,” he said. ”Without getting too descriptive on what we were looking for, at the end of the day we had an open lane on that drive. We’ve seen Dwyane make those plays time and time again over the years. We’ll live with that. In the paint he lost the dribble but it was a pretty good opportunity to attack the rim. They defended him, it became a broken play, and we know what happened.”

There was a quiet confidence about the players at the end of practice and everyone appeared loose, with James trying unsuccessfully to distract Wade during his session with the news media after missing a free throw. He smiled widely and laughed while trying to get Wade’s attention, but Wade never took his eyes off the reporter who asked him a question.

James is well aware of how important it is to have a short memory in the N.B.A. playoffs, and that’s the approach he is taking heading into Wednesday night’s potential series-clinching game.

”You carry it with you for 24 hours, you go over what needs to be done to correct it, and you get rid of it,” James said. ”I’m not saying that you don’t care about it, but you’ve got to move on to the next game. You can’t let it linger too much. Game 4 for us is over. We’re preparing for Game 5 now.”

PAUL TAKES CHARGE One day after Chris Paul’s 27th birthday, he and the Los Angeles Clippers showed they are growing up splendidly together.

Paul scored 8 of his 27 points in a dynamic overtime performance, and the Clippers moved to the verge of their second playoff series victory in 36 years, taking a 3-1 series lead with a 101-97 win Monday night over the Memphis Grizzlies in Los Angeles.

The Clippers blew a 10-point lead late in regulation before finishing without Blake Griffin, who fouled out midway through overtime. It could have been another disaster for a franchise with more than its share, but Paul did not allow it.

”It’s fun, it’s exciting,” said Paul, who missed a chance to score at the regulation buzzer.

”The worst mistake I probably made in the game was not getting the shot at the end of regulation,” he added. ”If I was at home watching it on TV, I’d be talking so bad about me. But you’ve got to get through it. The thing about it is that I have teammates that have confidence in me. Everything that we do is a team win.”

Maybe so, but the Clippers were happy to rely on Paul, their All-Star point guard.

Griffin had 30 points and 7 assists before fouling out for the Clippers, who blew an 84-74 lead over the final four and a half minutes before Paul took charge in extra time. ”He’s a great player, and that’s what great players do,” Memphis Coach Lionel Hollins said.

Game 5 is Wednesday night in Memphis.

This is a more complete version of the story than the one that appeared in print.