It was with little coincidence that Chris Bosh found himself wide open at the end of the game on the same night Dwyane Wade made his return to the lineup.
Bosh had been hounded by help defenders and handicapped by a stagnant offense for seven games without his running mate, but all that frustration melted away with the game on the line Sunday in Madison Square Garden. Wade, heavily guarded and with the ball in his hands, kicked a pass to Bosh at the three-point line with a minute left, and Bosh drilled it. The clutch shot carried the Heat to an 86-79 victory on a night the Knicks were abysmal.
“Chris and I have been playing together for a while, so at that moment we knew exactly what we were going to run,” Wade said. “You just put it on the defense to make a decision with me coming off and the big defender helping. I just throw it back to Chris.
“And he’s a great shooter. We love that in the fourth quarters, knowing that either one of us can get a shot.”
Wade led the Heat with 27 points and five assists in his first game back since injuring his hamstring on Nov.12. Bosh had 20 points and nine rebounds. The Heat (9-7) shot just 41.7 percent from the field and 30.4 percent from three-point range, but the Knicks were far worse.
“It’s about getting a win on the road no matter how ugly it is,” Wade said.
With Carmelo Anthony back in the lineup after missing two games with back spasms, the Knicks shot 35.2 percent from the field and went 3 of 24 from three-point range. Jose Calderon netted the Knicks’ first three-pointer with 7:26 left in the third quarter. Anthony had 31 points but needed 26 shots to get there. He was 1 of 6 from three-point range and 8 of 10 from the free-throw line.
“They shot 24 threes?” Wade said. “Jesus, it didn’t even feel like it. Give us half credit and give them some, too. They missed some.”
Miami, fifth in the Eastern Conference standings, has now won four of its past six games and plays in Washington on Monday against the Wizards (10-5), division opponents currently second in the East. The Knicks (4-14) are 12th.
Bosh’s three-pointer with 1:07 left gave the Heat an 82-77 lead, and Anthony missed a three-pointer on the Knicks’ ensuing possession. Bosh missed a three-point attempt with 29 seconds left, but Knicks reserve Tim Hardaway Jr., the son of Heat legend Tim Hardaway, then lost the ball out of bounds. The Heat then went 4 of 6 from the free-throw line to ice the game.
“[Wade] makes everyone’s job a lot easier, especially on the offensive end,” Bosh said. “When the situation gets a little tense or a little tight, and we need a shot, we run plays that we normally get good looks off of, and it’s just about having your feet set and shooting it with confidence.”
Wade went 11 of 18 from the field in his return and played 32 minutes. He was 9-of-11 shooting in the second half. It was in the general vicinity of film director Spike Lee that Wade stroked yet another baseline jumper in the fourth quarter and then strutted back to the Heat’s bench following a timeout by the Knicks. Earlier, Wade’s turnaround baseline jumper on Iman Shumpert with 6:11 left in the game gave the Heat a 74-67 lead.
“In the second half, everything I tried to do, I did without thinking about it,” Wade said. “That’s the biggest thing. When you play the game, you just want to be able to use your instincts and your abilities, and in the second half I was able to do that.”
It was an ugly first half, though. The Heat shot just 26.1 percent from the field in the first quarter, but led 42-34 at the break.
“It took a while,” Wade said. “I haven’t played in 21/2 weeks, so just getting over that. And then getting the confidence just to push off and just go. Early on I was just trying to make plays for my teammates.
“I haven’t played with them in a while and you could tell. The chemistry was a little off.”
Monday: Heat at Wizards
When/where: 7 p.m.; Verizon Center, Washington.
TV/radio: Sun Sports; WAXY 104.3 FM, 790 AM and WAQI 710 AM (Spanish)
Series: Heat leads 73-33.
Noteworthy: Dwyane Wade returned to the starting lineup Sunday against the Knicks after missing seven consecutive games. Chris Andersen is expected to miss his third game in a row with a sprained ankle. Norris Cole is playing with an injured left middle finger for the Heat. … The Wizards have won four of their past five games, and Monday will be Bradley Beal’s third game back in the starting lineup since returning from injury. Nene has missed three games in a row with plantar fasciitis.