LeBron, Heat shoot for sweep against Knicks

The New York Knicks haven't won a playoff game since April 29, 2001.

That doesn't figure to change on Sunday when the start-studded Miami Heat shoot for the sweep against the woebegone Knicks in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at Madison Square Garden.

LeBron James scored the first 11 points of the fourth quarter for Miami on Thursday and finished with 32 points, lifting the Heat to a 87-70 victory over New York in Game 3.

Dwyane Wade added 20 points and Mario Chalmers chipped in 19 on 5-of-8 shooting from three-point range as the Heat gained a commanding 3-0 advantage in their best-of-seven series.

Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 22 points and eight rebounds while Tyson Chandler recorded a double-double with 10 points and 15 boards. Forward Amare Stoudemire was relegated to a spectator's role after injuring his hand when he punched a fire extinguisher after the Knicks' Game 2 loss.

The Knicks, of course, had already entered the series with point guard Jeremy Lin sidelined from late-season knee surgery and lost defensive stalwart Iman Shumpert to a torn ACL in a 33-point Game 1 setback.

New York shot just 31.9 percent from the field in the setback and suffered an NBA record 13th consecutive playoff loss.

"Offensively we just didn't have it," said Knicks head coach Mike Woodson. "We were so stagnant and I have to take the heat for that. We just didn't have it coming down the home stretch."

And Woodson, who has lost his last seven postseason games as a head coach (four in Atlanta and three with New York), and Anthony, who is also 0-7 in the playoffs since arriving in Gotham, are already taking the "Heat."

"Our backs are against the wall and we are desperately trying to make a series out of this," Woodson saod. "The only way to do it is we've got to win Game 4 to force Game 5. Our fans deserve a win and this organization deserves a win, so we've got to go out and give it all we can."

After sitting the final seven-plus minutes of the third quarter in Game 3, James took over in the fourth with his team up by two, knocking down two threes around a said layup to give the Heat a 66-56 advantage less than two minutes into the frame.

New York never recovered.

"We weren't playing well in the first half on either end of the court," said Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra. "On the road, you like to see your team show some resiliency, some toughness, some resolve to dig back into it."

The Heat have outscored the Knicks by an average of 20 points in the first three games of the series. Back in 2010 when Woodson was coaching the Hawks, . Orlando swept Atlanta by 25.3 ppg in the second round so it's been a long time since Woodson has fielded a competitive team in the playoffs.

"I don't want this record to continue. I want to see our guys experience what a win is like in playoff basketball and we got one more opportunity to do it here at home in front of our fans," Woodson said.

No team in NBA history has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series, however.

On the injury front, Stoudemire has been listed as a game-time decision on Sunday but that seems like pie-in-the-sky thinking. The big man was able to rebound and catch with his left hand on Saturday in practice but it was still covered by padding.

The Knicks and Heat were once the game's biggest rivalry back in the late 1990s thanks to Pat Riley. Riley, the current Heat president, was the coach in New York from 1991-95 and took the Knicks to the '94 NBA Finals. He resigned from New York via fax to move on to South Florida, creating quite a bit of acrimony with the New York faithful.

In '97, Riley's Heat defeated his old team in a physical seven-game series advancing to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time in franchise history. However, the '98, '99 lockout-shortened season, and 2000 playoffs would be disappointments for Miami as they lost to the arch-rival Knicks; the first two in the opening round and the latter in the second round.

Game 5 of the best-of-seven series, if necessary, will be on Wednesday in Miami.