New York Knicks' J.R. Smith (8) goes to the basket as Miami Heat's Mike Miller (13) defends in the second half of an NBA basketball game

Knicks take top spot in East with win over Heat

MIAMI — Another Knicks-Heat game, another 20-point Knicks win. And if that isn’t surprising enough, this one happened with Carmelo Anthony on the sideline.

MIAMI — Another Knicks-Heat game, another 20-point Knicks win.

And if that isn’t surprising enough, this one happened with Carmelo Anthony on the sideline.

Raymond Felton scored a season-high 27 points, and the Knicks connected on 18 3-pointers to more than offset the absence of Anthony while dominating Miami for the second time this season, beating the Heat 112-92 on Thursday night.

“It was fun. It was fun the whole game,” Felton said.

“Everybody contributed tonight. Everybody did something amazing. We played a great game minus our superstar.”

Steve Novak scored 18 points, J.R. Smith added 13 and Tyson Chandler scored 13 for the Knicks, who won their fifth straight and moved 1 1/2 games clear of Miami for the best record in the Eastern Conference. The Knicks made eight 3-pointers in the third quarter alone, the most by any NBA team in any quarter so far this season.

Anthony sat out, one night after needing five stitches to close a cut on the middle finger of his left hand.

“You’ve got a key guy that goes down and the other guys get an opportunity to play and step up and make plays,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. “I thought it was a total team effort from everybody across the board. I thought our defence was solid and then we kind of broke it open at the end.”

LeBron James nearly picked up his second straight triple-double — 31 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists — in Miami’s second straight loss, the first of those coming on the road against lowly Washington on Tuesday.

Dwyane Wade scored 13 points, Chris Bosh had 12 and Udonis Haslem added 10 for the Heat, who fell to 8-1 at home.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra devoted most of his postgame remarks to the theme that Miami has to “own” its shortcomings right now, and how they would be addressed starting in practice on Friday.

“We’ll stay connected,” Spoelstra said. “We’re going to own this. We’re not going to brush this off. And we’re going to fix it.”

James — who said the Knicks “smashed” the Heat — didn’t wait that long. The league’s reigning MVP worked out immediately after the game, sweating at his locker more than an hour after the final buzzer.

“I’ve got to be better. I’ve got to be better,” James said. “It’s that simple. So I’m here, and I’m the last one to leave.”

Rasheed Wallace scored 12 and Jason Kidd added 11 points for the Knicks, who finished 18 for 44 from 3-point range.

It was tied at 53 at the half, and the third quarter changed everything for the Knicks. Kidd made a 3-pointer, Felton followed with consecutive 3s and New York was up by nine with 9:42 left in the period and the Heat seemed stunned.

New York was only getting started.

In all, it was an eight-3-pointers-in-eight-minutes barrage that decided this one, with five different players getting in on the act for the Knicks. Smith hit the last of them with 3:25 left in the third, and a pair of free throws by Chandler moments later gave New York — again, without its best player — an 18-point lead on the road against the reigning NBA champions.

Now losers of two straight, and having been beaten badly twice by the Knicks, the Heat know the outside “noise” — their word for the buzz that always seems to surround Miami — will start ramping up again.

“It’s a little earlier than expected, but we knew there were going to be different challenges this year,” Bosh said. “Controversy, adversity, whatever ’ersity’ you want to use. We’re smart. We’re not joking ourselves. We’re here.”

There was one run late in the third, a 13-3 burst by Miami that got the Heat within eight in the final seconds of the quarter. It was the last — and really, the only — gasp for Miami, as the Knicks just kept firing away in the fourth.

“We understood it was a 10-point game and we had to make our move,” Novak said. “We’ve got a few stops and hit a bunch of shots. That was really the key for us — hitting those shots and being aggressive.”

Felton finished 10 for 20 from the floor, adding seven assists and four rebounds. He was 6 for 10 from beyond the arc, Novak was 4 for 9, while Smith and Kidd were each 3 for 8 from long range.

Miami had two field goals in the first seven minutes of the final quarter, and when New York decided to put it away, it was with 3-pointers, of course. Novak made one for a 100-84 lead, another to stretch the margin to 19 and then Chandler got all alone for a dunk to push the lead to 109-88 and send most of the building’s occupants to the exits.

Smith hit a 3-pointer with 3:04 left to play, gestured toward the Heat bench, and the benches were cleared for subs moments later.

“We’ll be fine. We’ll be fine,” James said. “But we can’t act like what happened tonight or in Washington or some of the games that we even won that we probably shouldn’t have won, we can’t act like, ’OK, we made those things happen.’ We haven’t played like we’re capable of playing.”

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