MIAMI -- As Carmelo Anthony sat on the bench wearing a blazer and slacks, Raymond Felton led a shooting exhibition that had to make the Knicks' best player proud. It also made the defending champion Miami Heat look like an average team.
The Knicks proved they are not a one-man team and solidified their current spot as the Eastern Conference's best team Thursday night, drilling the Heat, 112-92.
Felton scored 27 points and buried six of the Knicks' 18 three-pointers in what was their most impressive win in an early season that's been filled with them.
Playing without Anthony, who sat out with a lacerated left middle finger, the Knicks crushed the Heat on its home court for their fifth straight win. "It says a lot for our team when you can have a guy of that caliber out and still you're able to get a win like this against the defending champs, on the road, on a back-to-back," Tyson Chandler said. "It's our depth. It says a lot about these guys in the locker room."
The Knicks are 14-4, and two of those wins have come against the Heat (12-5) -- each by 20 points. Said LeBron James, "'They pretty much just kicked our [butt] in two games.''
Anthony shot around before the game to test his hand but was scratched about 25 minutes before tipoff. The Knicks made up for his absence with good ball movement, strong defense and aggressive play.
After the teams played to a 53-53 tie in the first half, the Knicks got rolling, hitting eight three-pointers in a 37-point third quarter and 12 threes after halftime. They held the Heat to 12 points in the fourth quarter and built a 112-88 lead on J.R. Smith's three-pointer. The Knicks held the Heat to 39 second-half points and scored 36 in that span on three-pointers.
"It just shows what type of team we have and how deep we are, how together we are," Felton said.
The Knicks showed a physical and mental toughness that was best exemplified by Felton. Playing with a bone bruise in his left hand that he aggravated in the third quarter, Felton shot 10-for-20 from the field, including 6-for-10 on three-pointers. Overall, the Knicks shot 18-for-44 from downtown.
"It's not about my performance," Felton said. "I felt like everybody on the team did something amazing tonight, hit some big shots, went on some runs, hit some threes. We played a great game tonight minus our superstar."
Steve Novak added 18 points off the bench, making four threes. Smith and Chandler each had 13 points. The Knicks' bench outscored the Heat reserves 57-19.
James had 31 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists for the Heat, which has lost two straight. Dwyane Wade had only 13 points, shooting 3-for-13.
The Knicks had the Heat's attention coming in, and this performance justified Miami's expectation that the Knicks could be a threat all season.
"In the Eastern Conference, you would have to look up and say they're the measuring stick right now, and they would say the same about us," Wade said before the game.
Ultimately, the Knicks will be measured by the postseason. But Wade said that even though the Heat beat the Knicks seven out of eight times, including the playoffs, last season, he could see they were closing the gap. "They were building something," he said. "They built a good team."
It's only December, but the Knicks are serving notice that they could be a serious contender. They're still missing Amar'e Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert, and even without Anthony, they trounced the defending champs.
"This is about us," Smith said. "As long as we take care of business, play defense, move the ball, we'll be fine. We don't have to worry about anybody."