Miami, FL – Still searching for his first NBA championship, LeBron James opened the 2012 playoffs by scoring 32 points on just 14 shots and the Miami Heat dominated the New York Knicks, 100-67, in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals on Saturday.
"It was an efficient game for myself," said James, adding, "It's about always putting pressure on the defense."
James made 10 of his 14 field goal attempts and 11-of-14 free throws, Dwyane Wade scored 19 points and Mario Chalmers contributed 11 for the Heat, who won their fourth straight over New York to take the early advantage in the best- of-seven series.
"Our guys had a noticeable look in their eyes the past 24 hours... We wanted to get back to the basics and play to our identity," said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.
J.R. Smith led the way with 17 points off the bench for the Knicks, who committed 27 turnovers and 26 fouls. Carmelo Anthony scored 11 points with 10 rebounds but shot just 3-of-15 from the floor.
"Our strategy and system [for defending Anthony] worked for Game 1," James noted.
The clubs traded the lead seven times in the first quarter until Wade's resounding putback dunk sparked a 10-2 run that put Miami up for good. James scored half of his teams' points in the period as they went up 24-18 after one.
New York had trimmed its deficit to 30-29 midway through the second when the Heat erupted for 13 straight points, but a hard foul on their superstar forward a bit later was alarming for the hosts.
After a questionable foul on Tyson Chandler caused a Knick turnover, James was walking backwards toward midcourt. Chandler then pulled up and appeared to push James from behind. The former number-one draft pick fell to the floor in pain, grimacing and grabbing his neck.
Chandler was charged with a flargant-1 foul for the incident. James walked it off for a few minutes, then personally scored nine unanswered points before halftime as the Heat opened a 54-31 intermission advantage.
James also made the first bucket of the third quarter as Miami began the second half on an 8-0 run. New York answered with a 9-0 rally, but lost one of its starters to injury just over a minute later.
While trying to make a crossover move, Iman Shumpert's left knee appeared to buckle. He fell to the floor grabbing the knee, was carried off the court by two trainers and did not return.
The Knicks announced later Saturday that Shumpert has a torn ACL and lateral meniscus, and will miss six-to-eight months after undergoing surgery.
The Heat pushed their advantage to 81-47 by the end of the frame and both teams played their reserves in the final stanza, as New York got no closer than within 28 points.
Anthony looked optimistically toward Game 2 in the locker room after the game, saying, "They made adjustments, now it's time for us to make ours."
James tied Shaquille O'Neal for third place on the Heat's all-time list of 20- point postseason games with 16...This is Miami's 14th postseason appearance over the last 17 years, most in the Eastern Conference...New York has been swept in the first round in its last two playoff appearances, including last season...Miami swept the season series between these clubs, 3-0...Udonis Haslem became Miami's all-time postseason leader in defensive rebounds at the 8:35 mark of the third...The Heat improved to 29-5 at AmericanAirlines Arena this season.