Minus Melo, Knicks roll

MIAMI — As Carmelo Anthony sat on the bench wearing a blazer and slacks, Raymond Felton led a shooting exhibition that had to make the Knicks' best player proud. It made the defending champion Heat look like an average team.

New York cemented its spot as the best team in the Eastern Conference, drilling Miami 112-92 for its fifth straight win Thursday night.

It was the Knicks' most impressive win in an early season that has been filled with them. Playing without Anthony, who sat out with a left middle finger cut sustained in Wednesday's win at Charlotte, the Knicks crushed LeBron James and the Heat on their home court.

The Knicks are 14-4, having beaten Miami twice, both times by 20 points. Miami fell to 12-5.

"It was fun. It was fun the whole game," Felton said. "Everybody contributed. Everybody did something amazing. We played a great game minus our superstar."

"As we travel this journey, this could be the team that we got to go through to get where we want to go," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said before the game.

It will be difficult to beat the Heat in a seven-game series, but by then, the Knicks will have Anthony, Amare Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert back. They appear to be a team that will continue to get stronger.

Anthony shot around before the game to test his hand but was scratched about 25 minutes before tipoff. His status for Saturday night's game in Chicago was unknown.

Felton, playing with a bone bruise in his left hand, had 27 points and seven assists. He shot 10-for-20, including 6-for-10 from 3-point range. The Knicks shot 18-for-44 (41 percent) on 3-pointers. They hit 12 3s in the second half, eight in a 37-point third quarter.

Steve Novak added 18 points off the bench and made four 3s. J.R Smith and Tyson Chandler had 13 points each.

James led everyone with 31 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, but Dwyane Wade scored only 13, shooting 3-for-13, and Chris Bosh had 12 points and shot 3-for-12.

"It's a little earlier than expected, but we knew there were going to be different challenges this year," Bosh said, "controversy, adversity, whatever 'ersity' you want to use.''

James said the Knicks "smashed" the Heat. He worked out immediately after the game, sweating at his locker more than an hour after the final buzzer.

"I've got to be better. I've got to be better," James said. "It's that simple. So I'm here, and I'm the last one to leave."

rodman update: Former NBA star Dennis Rodman was found in contempt of court and ordered to pay $500,000 in overdue child support to his former wife, Michelle. Orange County (Calif.) Superior Court Commissioner Barry Michaelson told Rodman, 51, he could face jail time if he doesn't pay. Rodman and his ex-wife must still work out custody and visitation for their two preteen children, a son and a daughter. A trial is set for Jan. 24 on those issues, but the couple hopes to work out a deal before then.

around the league: Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki said he is improving from October knee surgery but is not close to returning. He had targeted mid December; now 2013 seems likely.

Knicks 112, Heat 92

NEW YORK (112): Brewer 0-3 0-0 0, Thomas 2-2 0-0 4, Chandler 4-7 5-8 13, Kidd 4-12 0-0 11, Felton 10-20 1-1 27, Smith 4-15 2-4 13, Novak 7-13 0-0 18, Wallace 4-13 4-6 12, White 3-3 0-0 7, Prigioni 3-3 0-0 7, Copeland 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 41-91 12-19 112.

MIAMI (92): James 11-20 6-9 31, Haslem 5-6 0-0 10, Bosh 3-12 6-6 12, Chalmers 2-5 3-4 7, Wade 3-13 6-6 13, Allen 4-8 1-1 9, Battier 0-0 0-0 0, Miller 2-5 0-0 6, J.Anthony 2-4 0-0 4, Cole 0-3 0-2 0, Jones 0-0 0-0 0, Harris 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 32-76 22-28 92.

New York 23 30 37 22— 112

Miami 26 27 27 12— 92

3-Point GoalsNew York 18-44 (Felton 6-10, Novak 4-9, Kidd 3-8, Smith 3-8, White 1-1, Prigioni 1-1, Brewer 0-1, Wallace 0-6), Miami 6-16 (James 3-5, Miller 2-3, Wade 1-2, Cole 0-1, Chalmers 0-2, Allen 0-3). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsNew York 56 (Chandler 9), Miami 51 (James 10). AssistsNew York 20 (Felton 7), Miami 17 (James 9). Total FoulsNew York 19, Miami 21. TechnicalsSmith. A19,740 (19,600).

Minus Melo, Knicks roll 12/06/12 [Last modified: Friday, December 7, 2012 12:27am]

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