MIAMI — Carmelo Anthony was feeling it but he didn’t force the issue and try to beat the Heat all by himself. He played a controlled offensive game, moved the ball, and got some scoring help from an unlikely source.
Robin Lopez, known more for his defense and wild hair, was a force for the Knicks inside Wednesday night, helping the Knicks to their third straight win, scoring a 98-90 win over the Heat.
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The Knicks proved that had plenty left after their narrow victory in Atlanta Tuesday. They were in control from late in the second quarter, led by 15 in the second half and never let Miami (21-14) get the deficit under seven after halftime. They’re now 18-19, surpassing their win total from last season.
“When we play the way we should be playing we can beat any team that’s out there,” Anthony said. “We’re showing that in these past couple of games. We just got to keep that up.”
One night after playing a season-high 40 minutes in Atlanta, Anthony looked fresh and strong. He shot 9-for-12 and paced the Knicks with 25 points.
Lopez, who assisted on the basket that clinched Tuesday’s win, also was 9-for-12 and scored a season-high 19. He also had two blocks and a resounding offensive-rebound dunk in the fourth quarter.
“I was pretty comfortable out there,” Lopez said. “Playing with a lot of offensively talented guys that are garnering a lot of attention gives me a little room to go to work.”
“He was unbelievable,” Anthony said of Lopez. “Defensively, he kept the pressure on them. Offensively he put the pressure on them. When he plays both ends of the court like that it opens it up for everybody out there.”
Rookie Kristaps Porzingis finished with 12 points, was dunked on twice and blocked two shots.
Chris Bosh led Miami with 28 points. Dwyane Wade added 18.
This is an impressive stretch for the Knicks. The three wins have come against Atlanta and Miami — two of the better teams in the East. A true test will come Friday when the Knicks’ three-game trip ends in San Antonio, which is 21-0 at home.
“The guys are starting to feel like we can be at least as good as anyone when we bring the right effort, the right mindset,” Derek Fisher said. “It’s been indicative the last few nights.”
Before the game, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra noted that the Knicks “look like a different team” from when they played in November. They met twice in a five-day span and the Knicks scored 78 both times and were beaten by an average of 18 points.
The Knicks are different now. They’re sharing the ball, playing with confidence and at least in the last three games not getting rattled by other team’s runs.
The Heat looked like it was going to make one in the fourth but the Knicks always seemed to come up with a big shot or play. Derrick Williams (13 points) connected on a three-pointer and Arron Afflalo hit a tough baseline jumper — both after the Heat cut it to nine.
With the Knicks up 80-69, Lopez grabbed an offensive rebound and stuck it back. Then Jose Calderon stole the ball from Goran Dragic and went in for the transition layup to give the Knicks an 84-69 lead with 6:26 left.
After Bosh three-point play made it 90-78, Lopez threw down a Porzingis’ miss to put the Knicks up 14 with 3:36 left. The Knicks never let it get below eight the rest of the way.
“I thought there was a level of composure and poise that the guys showed,” Fisher said. ”We were intense, but there was a relaxed look as though we were in control of what we wanted to do.”