The night began inauspiciously, with the dreadful New York Knicks surging ahead by 14 and Chris Bosh missing five of his first six shots.
But Bosh then erupted, scoring 32 on Monday, and a Heat team that too often has faded in the second half of games did the opposite, outscoring the visiting Knicks by 18 after intermission in a 109-95 win, snapping a three-game losing streak.
And this was unusual for the Heat this season: All three of its point guards played well.
Mario Chalmers (18 points, six assists, five rebounds, three steals) played with an attacking mentality throughout.
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Norris Cole had 12 points, making 4 of 6 shots, with eight assists.
Shabazz Napier hit a three early in the second half, his only field goal of the game, and had three assists, three steals and no turnovers. Napier has 19 assists and two turnovers in his past four games, quite an improvement for a player who was among the league’s worst in assist-to-turnover ratio for most of the season.
“They were great in the second half,” coach Erik Spoelstra said of his point guards. “They set the tone for us defensively and made the right decisions at the other end, getting into the paint, making plays.”
Bosh put it this way: “The point guards were fantastic tonight. If they play well — I don’t want to put pressure on them — we’re tough to beat.”
The Heat made 12 of 22 three-pointers (including four by Bosh and three by Chalmers), shot 53 percent in its 57-point second half and 12 for 18 in the fourth quarter. In fact, this was the Heat’s biggest offensive output since scoring 114 in the second game of the season, at Philadelphia.
Miami entered averaging 92.4 points, 29th in the league.
With the score tied at 74 late in the third quarter, the Heat unleashed a 31-14 run to take control.
Bosh scored 16 in the first half, four in the third and 12 in the fourth, finishing 12 for 23 from the field. He said he enjoyed his six assists more than the 32 points. Both were needed on a night Dwyane Wade missed his sixth game in a row with a hamstring injury.
“It was a good night; we really started to play our style,” Bosh said. “As tough as it’s been this year, we always come to play. … That’s what I’ve loved about this group.”
Nursing a sprained ankle, Hassan Whiteside said before Monday’s game that he couldn’t jump as high as usual but still high enough “to dunk on people.”
It took Whiteside slightly more than a half to put his imprint on this game.
Whiteside went to halftime scoreless and with three rebounds and three fouls in 11 minutes. He began the third with a dunk and had seven points, six rebounds and a block in 8:08 of the third before picking up his fourth foul. He never returned, playing only 19 minutes, closing with seven points, nine rebounds and two blocks.
“It took me a while to get used to being back out there with the guys,” said Whiteside, who missed the previous game.
Chris Andersen delivered a jolt when Whiteside left, finishing with 10 points, four rebounds and three blocks, with all the blocks coming in the fourth quarter.
“Both are supporting each other; both are emotionally stable enough now to know it’s a collective … productivity that we need [at center],” Spoelstra said.
With Brooklyn losing to Milwaukee, the Heat moved a game ahead of the Nets for eighth in the East.
At 22-29, Miami is tied with No.7 Charlotte, which owns the tiebreaker at the moment.
While Bosh sizzled after a slow start, Carmelo Anthony cooled. He opened 5 for 5, including four three-pointers, and scored 14 points in the game’s first nine minutes. He then missed 8 of his next 10 shots and later left for good with a sore knee with the Knicks down seven and 7:30 left. He finished with 26.
The Heat, on the wrong end of a 22-4 first-quarter run, avoided the embarrassment of losing to a team that entered 3-22 on the road and had lost 26 of 27 overall at one point this season.
▪ Wade worked out three hours before the game, but Spoelstra said Wade is “not planning” to travel to Cleveland for Wednesday’s final game before the All-Star break, though Spoelstra didn’t completely rule it out.
▪ Besides Wade, the Heat also played without James Ennis (knee issue) and Shawne Williams (hip).