Norris Cole, Mario Chalmers and Ray Allen each scored 11 points for the Heat, who are 41-7 in February games over the last four seasons.
James got the buzz for this one going just before tip-off, strapping the mask over the top half of his face, the deviation from the usual clear-plastic look enough to send Twitter users into some sort of commenting overdrive.
“He played like Batman,” Heat forward Chris Bosh said.
More importantly to the Heat, the mask didn’t seem to impair James’ vision much. James had 11 in the opening quarter, the Heat finished the period with a six-point lead and soon stretched the margin to 16 in the second quarter. A hook shot from Wade in the lane was his seventh straight make, giving Miami a 43-27 lead and indicating things would be a runaway.
Eventually, they indeed would.
But New York made it interesting for a bit.
Anthony had a brilliant flurry, scoring all 16 of his second-quarter points in the final 5:52 of the period as New York erased just about every bit of that big Miami lead. Then with 8:36 left in the third, Anthony set up Smith for a jumper that got New York to 64-61.
And from there, it was all Miami.
That’s when the huge run to end the third got started. The Knicks missed 12 of their final 13 shots to end the third — their only field goal in the final 8½ minutes was a layup by Tim Hardaway Jr. — and the Heat just got rolling. For some perspective, James had 12 points in the quarter while the Knicks, total, had 14.
“We crumbled,” Anthony said. “It got out of hand.”
Shane Battier set up James for a down-the-lane dunk that got Miami’s lead back to double digits at 72-61 and the snowball just kept growing. A 10-0 run in the final 2:21 of the quarter turned it into a runaway; James got fouled by Anthony and turned it into a three-point play with 1:58 left, then beat Anthony on a cut and accepted a pass from Cole for an easy layup on the next possession.
One trip later, Allen hit a 3-pointer, and just like that, Miami’s lead was 23, the outcome quickly becoming academic.
NOTES: It was the first time in Miami as an opponent for Hardaway, with the Knicks bench at the end of the court where Tim Hardaway Sr.’s retired jersey number hangs from the rafters. … Wade missed about three minutes in the first quarter to get an ankle re-taped. … Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was among the stars in attendance. … The Heat didn’t get a single offensive rebound until the fourth quarter.