for this game

Without Wade and O'Neal, Heat rout Knicks

Jan 23, 2007 - 5:40 AM MIAMI (Ticker) -- Without their two superstars, the Miami Heat and Jason Kapono wasted no time in burying the New York Knicks.

Kapono scored 13 of his 22 points in a remarkable first quarter and Jason Williams added 20 as the undermanned Heat got off to a red-hot start en route to a 101-83 victory over the Knicks.

Gary Payton had 10 points and a season-high 13 assists for Miami, which was playing without superstars Shaquille O'Neal (knee surgery) and Dwyane Wade (ankle) but came out energized from the opening tip.

"Obviously, when you have their two best players out you've got to take advantage of that," New York guard Jamal Crawford said. "Unfortunately, that's when guys step up. They got off to such a big lead we were playing catch-up the whole game."

The Heat used a 27-0 run in the first period, with Kapono shooting 5-of-7 from the field, including 3-of-3 from the arc. Miami took a commanding 40-12 lead into the second quarter.

"This was a great game for us in every way, shape and form," Heat interim coach Ron Rothstein said. "We had 28 assists. We outrebounded them by 12. We got 15 offensive rebounds. We shot 53 percent. If we could bottle this, we'd keep it."

The NBA's leading 3-point shooter at 54 percent, Kapono showed some versatility on Monday. He complemented his shooting ability with strong drives and pull-up jumpers, hitting 9-of-14 shots from the field and 4-of-6 from the arc.

Miami center Alonzo Mourning praised his teammates, saying that role players like Kapono have to step up as the Heat try to get back on track.

"If you had told me before the season started that we would be under .500 after 41 games, I would have looked at you crazy, but we are," Mourning said. "Whoever is suited up has to do what they have to do, just like tonight. Everybody has to be an active participant for us to get back above .500 and getting ourselves in a playoff spot.

After holding New York to just 4-of-18 shooting in the opening quarter, the Heat demoralized the Knicks, who sat quietly during a first-quarter timeout as coach Isiah Thomas refused to talk to his team.

"There's no strategy for being down 29-3," Thomas said. "As professionals, and as men, you have to step out on the floor and compete against the other player you are playing against. When you start competing, that's when strategy and everything else comes into play, but there's no strategy for laying down and taking it."

Williams was 8-of-16 from the floor, including 4-of-10 on 3-pointers for Miami, which shot 53 percent (43-of-81). He nailed 3-pointers on consecutive possessions in the fourth quarter for a 91-79 lead with 4:32 left that stopped New York's comeback attempt.

"I didn't really notice where I was (shooting from)," Williams said. "I was open so I shot it. The way we were playing, we all had to take open shots. I mean, it's a good feeling because everybody's having fun and everybody's smiling, as opposed to hanging their heads."

Trailing, 56-41, entering the third quarter, the Knicks fought back in the second half. They cut the deficit to six points with 8:10 left in the game on Eddy Curry's three-point play. However, Miami answered with a 12-4 run and never looked back.

Curry scored 26 points for New York, which shot 46 percent (32-of-70) in absorbing its third loss in its last four contests. Knicks guard Stephon Marbury, who has been bothered by a nagging knee injury, scored six points in just 15 minutes before leaving because of the balky knee.

David Lee, who had nine points and 15 rebounds for New York, blamed the loss on the sluggish play from the start.

"To be honest with you, it seems like the court is tilted, like they're running downhill, shooting layups and making threes," Lee said. "Then we're going uphill just to get the ball across half-court and try and get a shot off. I've felt times at the Garden when we've been on the other end of that. So, it was a tough one."

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