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Playoff-chasing Heat fall to Knicks, who were without Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose

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MIAMI (AP) Whenever New York was tested, the Knicks had an answer. And Miami’s road to the playoffs likely got a bit tougher.

Kristaps Porzingis scored 22 points, Courtney Lee added 20 and the Knicks led nearly the entire way in beating the Heat 98-94 on Friday night, holding Miami to 22 percent shooting in the fourth quarter.

Justin Holiday scored 12 for the Knicks, who played without Carmelo Anthony (back), Derrick Rose (knee) and Lance Thomas (hip). Miami tied the game five times in the fourth quarter, and the Knicks answered with a score every time – never ceding the lead, never looking like an eliminated team with nothing to play for.

“We just went out there and tried to not think about anything,” Lee said. “Go out there and play free and have fun.”

Goran Dragic scored 22 points and Hassan Whiteside had 17 points and 16 rebounds for Miami, which missed 15 of its final 16 attempts from 3-point range. Tyler Johnson scored 15 for the Heat.

Johnson was 3 for 4 in the final quarter. The rest of the Heat were 1 for 14, and 0 for 7 from 3-point range.

“The 3-ball didn’t go in tonight, we didn’t defend and it didn’t end up being a good formula for us,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

Even with the loss, Miami (37-39) held onto the No. 7 spot in the Eastern Conference standings because No. 8 Indiana (37-39) also lost, the Pacers falling to Toronto. The Heat and Pacers are just a half-game ahead of No. 9 Chicago.

The Heat had a last chance to tie in the final seconds, but Dragic missed a layup and Whiteside was called for offensive basket interference as he tried to tip the rebound.

“We’re not just going out there to play,” Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said. “You’re not out there playing a pickup game – you’re out there to try to win. So no matter who you have on the court, that’s the way we should be approaching it.”

Miami’s six remaining games are all against opponents with postseason aspirations.

“We’re still in the playoffs,” Dragic said. “Every game counts.”

TIP-INS

Knicks: New York trailed for only 1:48 in the game, never by more than a point. … The Knicks need to finish 4-2 to avoid a third straight season of at least 50 losses. … Anthony averaged 17.3 points in March. The only other month when he averaged less while playing at least eight games was February 2012 (16.5). … New York had 25 assists on 38 field goals.

Heat: Dion Waiters (ankle) continues progressing, though no timetable has been set for his return. Friday was the seventh game he missed with the sprain. … Tyler Johnson got hit in the face in the first half, with some blood getting on his uniform and the court.

POSTGAME WORK

Tyler Johnson and James Johnson headed immediately to the Heat practice court for some postgame shots. “They could have easily went out to the main court like most NBA guys so the media can record it,” Whiteside said. “These guys, they work on their game. They don’t do it for show. They don’t do it for the cameras.”

GRANT HONORED

Former Heat player Brian Grant, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease nearly a decade ago, was at the game and is hosting a fundraiser Saturday in Miami to aid his foundation. “With Parkinson’s, the main thing you want to happen, the best thing that can happen, is for you to progress relatively slow. And I’ve been progressing slowly,” Grant said. He and Heat President Pat Riley – his former coach – chatted at courtside just before tipoff, both smiling broadly.

VALUE GUYS

With Anthony, Rose and Thomas hurt and Joakim Noah suspended, the Knicks played without four of their five highest-paid players – that group making a combined $68 million this season. Lee was the only Knicks player with a salary over $4.1 million who was on the court Friday.

UP NEXT

Knicks: Host Boston on Sunday, the start of a three-game homestand.

Heat: Host Denver on Sunday, Miami’s final game this regular season against a Western Conference opponent.

Phil Jackson to miss Kobe Bryant’s jersey retirement Monday

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For one last night, Staples Center will belong to Kobe Bryant on Monday.

Sure, the Warriors are in town to take on the Lakers, but Monday night the Lakers are retiring Kobe Bryant’s numbers — both 8 and 24 — in a halftime ceremony. It’s been the hottest ticket in Los Angeles, with celebrities, luminaries, and regular Lakers fans shelling out a lot of cash to see the Laker legend be honored.

Except, Phil Jackson will not be there, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Jackson has been in touch with Bryant in advance of the ceremony to congratulate him, sources said. But he was unable to travel from his Montana home for the ceremony in Los Angeles.

No reason was given (nor does one need to be made public, that’s between Kobe and Jackson).

Jackson coached Kobe to all five of his NBA titles, and while their relationship had its ups and downs — remember Jackson called out Kobe as almost uncoachable in one of his books — they remain close.

 

Three Things to Know: LeBron James racks up third straight triple-double

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Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA. Here’s what you missed on Sunday while practicing your ax throwing in Paris

1) LeBron James has third straight triple-double… and sends equality message. Back in the 2008-09 season, LeBron James strung together three consecutive games of triple-doubles, the season he went on to win his first MVP award. Despite 61 career triple-doubles, he hasn’t had a string like that since.

Until now. LeBron put together three again this week, the most recent coming at the expense of the Washington Wizards on Sunday, a team that had no answer for his playmaking skills. James finished the game with 20 points, 12 rebounds and 15 assists. It wasn’t the most efficient LeBron scoring performance of his career (8-of-23 shooting overall, 2-of-7 from three, his legs looked a little tired on the back-to-back) and he was playing too much in isolation (nearly twice as many possessions as in pick-and-roll). However, down the stretch he was a fantastic playmaker, finding teammates — such as finding the cutting Jeff Green and Kyle Korver — and doing what it took to lift his team to the 106-99 win (Cleveland’s has won five straight and 18-of-19).

LeBron was also sending a message while playing in our nation’s capital: He wore one black and one white of the LeBron 15s, with the word “Equality” on the back of both of them. Good on LeBron, I love that he has found a voice and is comfortable using it.

2) Cavaliers sticking to plan even if he seems ready: Isaiah Thomas should join Cavaliers after the first of the year. Patience. It’s a virtue. Cleveland’s end game is to have another elite playmaker and scorer on the floor in late May and (hopefully) June, not for Christmas Day (no matter who is on the schedule).

Meaning that despite the face Isaiah Thomas is working out and says he and his injured hip feel ready to return, it will be 2018 before he officially pulls on a Cavaliers jersey and takes the court.

This is the smart play by the Cavaliers, who have racked up enough wins not to need to push him. That said, LeBron is carrying a heavy load — he’s played more minutes than anyone in the league so far, and this is his 15th NBA season — and the Cavaliers need to get him some help and rest so he is fresh for the postseason.

3) Detroit ties a franchise record with 17 made threes in win over Orlando. The Pistons are not exactly a great three-point shooting team: They average a middle-of-the-pack 29.3 attempts per game (31.6 percent of their attempts), but at least hit them at a healthy 38.3 percent clip. Detroit does a good job at least of getting corner threes up and knocking them down.

Sunday they were knocking everything down, hitting 17-of-34 threes to tie a franchise record for the most made threes in a game. Anthony Tolliver led the way (5-of-7 from deep) with Reggie Bullock pitching in 4-of-5.

The Pistons have snapped out of their seven-game losing streak to win three in a row now, including a quality win over the Pacers on the second night of a back-to-back.

Heat forward James Johnson expected to miss 7 to 10 days

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MIAMI (AP) The Miami Heat will be without starting forward James Johnson for at least two games and probably more after bursitis was found in his right ankle.

Johnson left Miami’s win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday with ankle pain, and an MRI performed Sunday led to the bursitis diagnosis. Johnson is not traveling with the team for its trip for games at Atlanta on Monday and Boston on Wednesday.

The team says Johnson could miss seven to 10 days, which would also mean his status for home games against Dallas on Dec. 22, New Orleans on Dec. 23 and Orlando on Dec. 26 is in some doubt.

Johnson is averaging 10.9 points and 5.2 rebounds for the Heat this season.

LeBron James wears one black, one white LeBron 15 shoes with “Equality” on back (VIDEO)

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LeBron James notched his third-straight triple-double on Sunday, this one coming against the Washington Wizards. But before the game, the story was all about how James was voicing a silent protest — in Washington D.C., no less — by wearing a special version of his shoes.

LeBron took to the floor wearing his LeBron 15s, but this player edition had the word “Equality” on the back of them. James wore one black shoe and one white shoe.

James wore the black versions of this shoe in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ opener to start the season.

Via Twitter:

LeBron finished the game with 20 points, 15 assists, and 12 rebounds. The Cavaliers beat the Wizards, 106-99.