Lebron James had 29 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in Wednesday's victory against the Knicks.
MIAMI — The final horn sounded, and LeBron James wrapped his arms around Carmelo Anthony in a warm embrace.
Their head-to-head scoring matchup in this series was even, 139 points apiece.
Just about everything else tipped Miami’s way — so the Heat are moving on and the New York Knicks are going home.
James had 29 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade both scored 19 points and the Heat ousted the shorthanded Knicks 106-94 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference first-round series Wednesday night.
The Heat won the series 4-1, and will meet Indiana in the East semifinals starting Sunday in Miami.
“We do not take this for granted,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “This was a tough series. We feel very good about moving on and it’ll only get tougher from here.”
For the Heat, it was only the first step. The reigning East champions have one goal — getting back to the finals and winning it all — and that was likely why even beating the franchise’s longtime rival prompted, at most, a subdued celebration.
“We will savor this win tonight,” James said. “And then we get to work tomorrow and get ready for Indiana.”
Anthony scored 35 points for the Knicks, including a spinning jumper over James at the end of the third quarter that pulled New York within 81-67. It was far from being enough to stave off an all-too-familiar playoff result for Anthony, part of that 2003 draft class that also yielded James, Bosh and Wade.
Anthony has played 54 postseason games, being part of wins only 17 times. A misleading stat for certain — it’s hardly all on him — and no shortage of people in the Heat organization interrupted their celebrating of a series-clincher to tip their caps Anthony’s way afterward.
“We fought, under the circumstances,” Anthony said. “I’m not one to make any excuses for anything. … But Miami, they’re a tough defensive team. They stick to what their schemes are.”
James shot 48 percent from the field in the series, Anthony shot 42 percent. James averaged 6.2 rebounds and 5.6 assists, Anthony averaged 8.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists.
“It was fun, man,” James said. “He’s one of the most competitive players I’ve ever played against in a playoff series.”
Amare Stoudemire scored 14 points, Landry Fields and J.R. Smith both added 12, Mike Bibby had 10 and Tyson Chandler grabbed 11 rebounds for New York, which is 1-8 in playoff games with Anthony and Stoudemire as teammates.
“Miami is a very good team,” Stoudemire said. “You have to give credit to them.”
Stoudemire fouled out with 4:48 left, and the Knicks put together one more run with hopes of extending the season. New York cut the margin to 11 points four times in a 2-minute span, but Miami answered every time, the last of those a 3-pointer by Shane Battier with 54 seconds left.
That sent the white seat covers flying in all corners of the arena, the fans knowing it was finally over.
“There’s a lot of pride that takes place in this kind of series,” Wade said. “Even though it was a five-game series, it was a very tough series to win. … I thought it helped us. You couldn’t overlook this team.”
Bibby averaged 0.5 points in first-quarter appearances this season. That was before scoring eight in the opening minutes of Game 5, including a jumper over Wade that gave New York a quick 14-8 lead.
It was one of New York’s few moments to enjoy. James had 13 points on only six field-goal attempts by halftime, Wade shook off a scoreless first quarter with 12 in the second, and Miami went into the break leading 55-44.
The margin was less than 10 points for only 90 seconds of the third quarter. Stoudemire went to the bench with his fifth foul with 6:41 left in the third, and Miami went on an 11-2 spurt not long after that all but sealed the outcome. It was 67-58 when Fields made two free throws with 4:49 left in the quarter — and then the Heat’s “Big Three” needed just 3 minutes to blow the game open.
Bosh and Wade combined for six points in that flurry, James the other five, including a 21-footer with 1:29 left to put Miami up 78-60.
“It was very crucial,” James said. “We had an 11- or 12-point lead in Game 4 and we weren’t able to bump it up to 15, 16. … We allowed them to get back into the game. We were very conscious tonight when we got that lead.”
For the Knicks, it was the 12th straight season without a playoff-series victory. The last time New York advanced in the postseason came at Miami’s expense in 2000 in the East semifinals.
New York’s season started with great expectations. Not long after the lockout ended the Knicks acquired Chandler from Dallas, a move made possible by using the amnesty clause on Chauncey Billups.
Those moves were expected. Just about everything else that happened was not. From the firing of coach Mike D’Antoni to the emergence of Jeremy Lin before he was sidelined by a knee injury, the Knicks had a roller-coaster ride that continued with a baffling series of injuries against Miami.
Rookie guard Iman Shumpert was lost in the third quarter of Game 1 to a torn knee ligament, Stoudemire sliced his left hand after taking out his frustrations on a metal-and-glass fire extinguisher case after a Game 2 loss, and Baron Davis shredded his knee so badly in Game 4 that he is expected to be out a year — at least.
“I thought we played well in spurts,” Knicks interim coach Mike Woodson said. “Our guys got a short taste of what playoff basketball’s about. It’s something this summer we’ve got to sit and think about and hopefully get ready for next season.”
He didn’t put any extra emphasis on the word “hopefully,” but he could have. One of New York’s first orders of business this offseason will likely be deciding if Woodson will be back on the sideline, as many expect.
“Woody’s done a heck of a job with that team,” Spoelstra said.
Notes: Miami went 7-1 against the Knicks this season, including playoffs. The Heat won three of four games against Indiana this season. … James had seven points, five assists and zero field goals in the first quarter. Only two other players (Billups in 2007 and Jerryd Bayless in 2011, both in fourth quarters) had done that in any quarter since James entered the league, according to STATS LLC. … Rapper Rick Ross was among those courtside.
Grizzlies force Game 6, beat Clippers, 92-80
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Marc Gasol scored 23 points and Zach Randolph added 19 as the Memphis Grizzlies avoided elimination by beating the Los Angeles Clippers 92-80 on Wednesday night, forcing a Game 6 in the Western Conference first-round series.
With Gasol and Randolph scoring early, the Grizzlies looked like the team that knocked off top-seeded San Antonio last spring and took Oklahoma City to seven games in the conference semifinals.
Game 6 is Friday night in Los Angeles. If the Grizzlies can win, Game 7 would be Sunday in Memphis.
Rudy Gay added 14 points for Memphis.
Mo Williams had 20 points for the Clippers while Chris Paul scored 19 and Blake Griffin had 15 points and 11 rebounds. Paul and Griffin both missed time in the fourth quarter with injuries.
Paul strained a groin muscle and appeared to jam a finger while Griffin hyperextended his left knee.
Paul almost singlehandedly gave the Clippers a chance to close out this series by scoring eight of his 27 points in overtime of Game 4.
This time, the four-time All-Star guard had just five points by halftime and scored nothing in this fourth quarter. He was grimacing early in the fourth quarter and was on the bench with the injured right groin. An injured groin kept him out of the Clippers’ regular season finale, a loss to New York that cost Los Angeles the No. 4 seed.
The Clippers came in needing a win to clinch their first series since 2006 and advance to a second-round series against top-seeded San Antonio. But even though Paul has plenty of postseason experience, this was the first close-out game for the likes of Griffin, Randy Foye and DeAndre Jordan.
Los Angeles last led at 17-16 before a fastbreak layup by Tony Allen that was set up by a long pass from Gasol put Memphis ahead to stay at 18-17 with 5:40 left in the first quarter.
The Clippers closed the third quarter with a 14-2 run and got within six twice to conjure up memories of Memphis blowing a 27-point lead in Game 1. Foye pulled the Clippers within 85-79 on a layup with 55.7 seconds left.
With CP3 on the bench, that was as close as they would get.
In the arena nicknamed the Grindhouse in honor of the Grizzlies’ bruising, blue-collar style, Memphis pounded the ball into the paint and banged on the Clippers all game long. The Grizzlies outscored Los Angeles 48-26 in the paint and had a 42-35 edge in rebounds.
Griffin twice limped to the bench, once late in the first quarter with what appeared to be a ripped shoe. Then he went down under the basket late in the third after his legs tangled with Gasol’s, and Griffin kept rubbing and holding his left knee. He walked gingerly to the bench, but returned. It was the same knee that cost him his first season in the NBA.
Gasol scored 12 points in the first quarter. Randolph, who looked nothing like the double-double machine of last season’s playoffs, hit his first six shots in scoring 15 points while grabbing five rebounds as Memphis led 36-22 at the end of the first quarter.
The Grizzlies led 57-42 at halftime and led by as many as 24 before the Clippers tried to make it interesting again.
This physical series went to a new level in the second quarter when Eric Bledsoe of the Clippers ran over to defend Quincy Pondexter and bumped him to the court. Bledsoe then heaved the ball up into the air, drawing a technical foul. That was the first of five for the Clippers with four coming in the third quarter as Paul, Williams and coach Vinny Del Negro let their frustration boil over.
Notes: The Clippers have been called for 12 technicals in this series and the Grizzlies six. … Los Angeles’ Caron Butler, playing with a broken left hand, had seven points in the first quarter. He finished with eight after missing his last five shots. … Agent Jimmy Sexton and Dontari Poe, the first-round draft pick by the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs, sat courtside next to the Clippers’ bench. Titans safety Robert Johnson and cornerback Alterraun Verner were in the stands.