(SportsNetwork.com) - The NBA schedule makers didn't know the New York Knicks would have to run through a season-ending gauntlet to reach the playoffs.
The rough stretch continues for the playoff-hopeful Knicks on Sunday, when they visit LeBron James and the Miami Heat at AmericanAirlines Arena.
New York is one game behind the Atlanta Hawks for the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with five to go and is coming off Friday's 90-89 loss to the Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden. The Hawks will visit the Indiana Pacers Sunday night.
Knicks All-Star Carmelo Anthony was held to a season-low 10 points on 5-of-14 shooting to go with eight rebounds and five assists. Anthony committed nine turnovers and was bothered by a right shoulder issue he suffered in the previous game against Brooklyn on Wednesday.
Anthony hopes it will get better, but said the shoulder made it hard to pass en route to all of the turnovers versus the Wizards. He said there was no way he was coming out of the game under the current circumstances with the Knicks still alive in the postseason hunt.
"This dogfight that we're in, there was no way that I was coming out."
After Wizards guard Bradley Beal put his team ahead on a big shot with 22.9 seconds remaining, Anthony and the Knicks had a chance to respond. However, Anthony lost control of the ball and J.R. Smith's attempt was off the mark.
"I felt like I lost the ball," Anthony admitted. "That was it. Felt like I lost the ball."
The strength of the shoulder and not getting the dribble he wanted caused Anthony to loose grip. He said that he will be in Miami "for sure" on Sunday for the Knicks, who had won three straight and 12 of 15 games. Anthony went through treatment on the shoulder and was averaging 29.7 points in his previous 23 contests.
Knicks guard Raymond Felton gave New York a short-lived 89-88 lead against Washington on a corner 3-pointer with 33.5 seconds to go, but Beal answered on the other end.
"It was a tough loss, man," Anthony said. "I wish I could have played better but for the most part I thought my teammates did what they had to do. But we got one Sunday against Miami. We got some pretty good wins on the road and we want to keep it up. We got five games left to try and make this happen."
Smith scored a game-high 32 points and Amare Stoudemire ended with 16 in the home loss to the Wizards. Now the Knicks are back on the road, where they are 16-22 and have won seven of the last nine games. The Knicks also have Toronto twice, Chicago and Brooklyn on the remaining schedule.
The two-time defending champion Heat will resume a five-game homestand versus the Knicks and dropped a 122-121 double-overtime decision to Minnesota Friday.
Timberwolves forward Corey Brewer sank the winning free throw with 1.8 seconds remaining in the second overtime, where Minnesota had a 13-12 advantage. Kevin Love had 28 points and 11 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who snapped a seven- game skid against the Heat. Love also played a big part defensively and successfully guarded Miami sharpshooter Ray Allen's final shot.
"You just want to see players decide it in the end," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We had many more opportunities to close that game out."
James had 34 points and eight boards in defeat, while Chris Bosh and Mario Chalmers each scored 24 for the Heat, who had a four-game winning streak stopped and fell to 2-1 on the stay. The Heat are still percentage points ahead of Indiana for the East's top seed.
Heat guard Dwyane Wade missed the game with a hamstring issue and could sit again versus New York. Wade has been sidelined the last five games and is averaging 19.2 points this season.
Miami had won its last five games at home and is still a dominant 30-7 in South Beach this season. The Heat will close the homestand Tuesday versus Brooklyn.
The Heat are 2-1 against the Knicks this season and posted a 108-82 victory at home on Feb. 27 thanks to 31 points from James, who was wearing a protective mask at the time because of a broken nose. Anthony had 29 points in that one for the Knicks, who have lost seven of 10 trips to south Florida.