By BRIAN MAHONEY, Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — Carmelo Anthony made the big shots at the end. Amare Stoudemire provided a spark right from the start.
The two guys who came to New York to chase championships finally got their first playoff victory together, setting off a celebration 11 years in the making.
Anthony scored 41 points, Stoudemire had 20 points and 10 rebounds in his return from a cut hand, and the Knicks snapped an NBA-record, 13-game postseason losing streak by beating the Miami Heat 89-87 Sunday in Game 4 of their first-round series.
"It's about time," interim coach Mike Woodson said. "This team is good enough to win games. We've proven that we can beat anybody in this league. But it could not happen to a better group of guys. And for the Knicks fans, I mean, they've been waiting for a long time, but it's just one game and we have a long way to go."
No NBA team has come back from a 3-0 deficit, and yet another serious injury will make it even tougher for the Knicks as they try. But as streamers rained down from the rafters after the buzzer, they were clearly reveling in their postseason breakthrough.
"I think it's the first of many," said Stoudemire, who played with padding over his left hand and then put his arm back in a sling afterward to keep his hand elevated. "Tonight was a great win for us, for our fans to finally get over that hump of those consecutive games that we lost, I guess the Knicks, lost over those years in the playoffs."
Anthony made a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 54.5 seconds left as the Knicks won a playoff game for the first time since beating Toronto on April 29, 2001, in Game 3 of a best-of-five series. Baron Davis dislocated his right kneecap in the third quarter, just as the Knicks were making the run that got them back into the game after a dismal first half.
"I'm just glad that we came together after that, kept our composure, kept on fighting and won the basketball game," Anthony said.
LeBron James scored 27 for the Heat, who will try to close it out in Game 5 at home on Wednesday. Dwyane Wade had 22, but missed a 3-pointer on the last possession that would have given Miami a lengthy rest before starting the second round.
"We'd love to take the week (off) but it's not in the cards for us to do that in this round," Wade said. "You know, we'll adjust. We play Wednesday in Miami at 7 o'clock. We'll be ready to play and give our fans another exciting game."
Wade's errant shot set off a loud celebration from Knicks fans whose team was on the verge of getting swept for the second straight year, and third straight time dating to 2004. It didn't look as if the elusive postseason victory would come in this series, after the Knicks had been blown out by 20 points per game in the first three games.
But they got a huge lift from Stoudemire, playing with padding over his hand just six days after he punched a fire extinguisher case after a Game 2 loss in Miami. And they got a sensational effort from Anthony, who shot 15 of 29 and was one point shy of his playoff career best after he made only 34.4 percent of his shots in the first three games.
"We stepped up to the challenge," Anthony said.
Now here comes another: The Knicks need a solution at point guard after Davis was carted off on a stretcher with his severe knee injury. Jeremy Lin is close to returning from knee surgery, but Iman Shumpert was lost with a torn knee ligament in Game 1.
A day after the Dallas team that beat them in the finals was swept by Oklahoma City, the Heat failed in their attempt for their first sweep since beating Washington in the 2005 Eastern Conference semifinals.
The series was on pace to be one of the most lopsided in NBA history through three games, but this one was within four points the entire fourth quarter, the crowd at Madison Square Garden growing louder with every play that moved the Knicks closer to their first playoff win in 11 years.
Mike Bibby's 3-pointer with 1:23 left snapped an 81-all tie, but the Heat called timeout and ran a play that freed James for a wide-open 3 that tied it again 7 seconds later. On the Knicks' next possession, Anthony came far beyond the arc to receive the ball after JR Smith picked up his dribble, then dribbled forward and pulled up for a 3 that made it 87-84 with 54.5 to play.