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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.