for this game

Williams, Heat rally to beat Knicks

Nov 12, 2007 - 3:06 AM By Larry Fleisher PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

NEW YORK (Ticker) -- While the Miami Heat continue to anticipate Dwyane Wade's return, their wait for their first victory is over.

Jason Williams scored the last four points of the game Sunday as the Heat rallied for a 75-72 victory over the New York Knicks.

It was the first win in six games this season for Miami, which has struggled without the injured Wade. Still recovering from shoulder and knee surgeries, Wade has been practicing but does not appear close to returning.

Without Wade, Miami lost its first five games by a combined 30 points and did so despite holding its first four opponents under 100 points - including two under 90.

Despite another strong defensive performance in this one, the Heat appeared headed to another close loss. But with the Heat facing a 72-67 deficit with 2 1/2 minutes remaining, Williams and Udonis Haslem took over down the stretch.

"It was a much-needed win for us," Miami center Shaquille O'Neal said. "We have folded under the pressure the last couple of game. We got a couple of big stops and (Williams) hit a big shot in the corner and big free throws."

"They were pretty desperate for a win," Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said. "It was just a matter of time before they beat somebody. Unfortunately it was us."

Haslem scored on tip-in with 2:08 remaining and made a layup with 47 seconds remaining to draw Miami within 72-71.

The Heat forced a turnover 10 seconds later when Stephon Marbury's pass intended for Jamal Crawford landed in the stands.

That set the stage for Williams, who was wide open in the left corner after Marbury committed to Ricky Davis. Given plenty of time to shoot, Williams drilled a 16-footer to make it 73-72 with 19 seconds left.

"We ran a pick-and-roll," Miami coach Pat Riley said. "We call it twist where he's going to get three opportunities to try and create airspace. He made the pass to Ricky. Ricky penetrated, threw it back and he was wide open and he buried it."

Williams also factored in the final defensive stand when he intercepted Crawford's pass that was intended for Eddy Curry. After getting fouled by David Lee, Williams sank a pair of free throws to give Miami a 75-72 edge with nine seconds remaining.

"We knew we were going to blitz on Marbury and Crawford and we did that all night and their big guys, Curry and Lee were ducking in, so our perimeter had to dig down," Williams said.

"We just haven't been able to get stops down the stretch," Haslem said. "When you're able to get stops down the stretch, (it helps you win). Fortunately it happened and we'll try to build on it."

New York had a chance to force overtime, but Marbury badly missed a 3-pointer just before time expired.

"Actually that last was for Steph to shoot or drive the basketball," Thomas said. "If he couldn't drive it, he could take the three."

Not only did Williams and Haslem give Miami its first win of the regular season, the duo gave the Heat their first victory since April 13.

Before their third 0-5 start in franchise history, the Heat had lost their final two regular-season games of 2006-07, four straight playoff games to the Chicago Bulls and gone winless in seven preseason contests.

"Anytime you get a wide-open three with the game on the line, you feel like the guy is going to make it," Riley said. "I just felt like it was time for us to make one in the last 19 games."

Williams finished with 17 points and five assists while Haslem chipped in 16 points and 16 rebounds. O'Neal and Davis each scored 14 points for Miami, which limited New York to just 37 percent (28-of-75) shooting.

The Knicks also shot 5-of-18 in the fourth, missed 10 of their final 11 shots, and were scoreless in the final 2 1/2 minutes.

New York took a 58-52 lead into the fourth and were up, 68-62, after Mardy Collins made a nine-footer with 6:48 remaining. But Marbury and Crawford missed three shots apiece before Lee's dunk with 3:25 remaining put them ahead 70-67.

"Being up in the final two minutes, we need to find a way to pull that out," Lee said. "We didn't execute some plays were supposed to and they did on the other end."

"The last few games, we had opportunities to win both of them," Crawford added. "The Orlando game and this one we got a lead with three minutes to go - we have to close it out."

The Heat still struggled on the offensive end - they had 37 points at halftime after allowing the Knicks to close the first half with a 17-4 run and enter the break with a two-point lead.

The Knicks, who open a four-game, five-night road trip Tuesday in Phoenix, dropped their second straight game following a 2-1 start. They played without forward Zach Randolph, who is in Indiana following the death of his grandmother.

With Randolph out of the lineup, Curry picked up the pace in the paint, scoring 19 points. Marbury added 14 points despite shooting just 6-of-16 while Lee started for Randolph and collected 14 points and 14 rebounds.

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