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Heat rises in victory

Miami overcame everything _ foul trouble, a hostile crowd and Alonzo Mourning's lack of offense _ to regain control of its first-round series against the Knicks.

The Heat took an early lead and held on as it took a 2-1 series lead with a 91-85 victory Tuesday night.

It brought a quick momentum shift to a series that had seemed to turn the Knicks' way when they evened the series Sunday in Miami.

Miami even rubbed it in a little, too, as Eric Murdock made a throat-slashing gesture late in the fourth quarter _ the same one Chris Childs of New York made late in Game 2 _ after making a three-pointer with 4:15 left that put the Heat ahead by nine.

"He did that?" teammate Tim Hardaway said. "Shoot, I wanted to do that. I'll do it Thursday."

"It was something that was stupid. I shouldn't have done it," Murdock said. "I got caught up in the emotions of the game, and it was something that just happened and I'm sorry it was caught on tape.

"I was upset with myself right when I did it. For one thing, there were four minutes left. It was a big shot, but it wasn't that big of a shot."

Voshon Lenard scored 28, all in the first three quarters, and Hardaway added 27. Murdock scored 11 as Miami had only three double-figure scorers.

Mourning, in foul trouble for the first three quarters, finished with seven points on 3-for-13 shooting after leading the Heat with 30 in Game 2.

He made a huge contribution on the defensive end, where he blocked a pair of shots, forced a traveling call and won a jump ball on four consecutive possessions late to kill the Knicks' chances to get close.

"We were getting opportunities," Terry Cummings said, "but the last five or six minutes we rushed everything instead of maintaining composure."

Allan Houston scored 27 for the Knicks, but he, too, failed to score in the fourth. Larry Johnson added 22 points.

The Knicks, trying to become the first seventh seed from the Eastern Conference to beat a No. 2 seed, will need to win at home Thursday and on the road Sunday to advance.

"It's gonna go five," said Cummings, who took issue with Murdock's throat-slash gesture. "You never forget that kind of stuff. That kind of thing follows you around, especially in a playoff series."

Miami won for only the fourth time in 26 games at Madison Square Garden, where a vocal sellout crowd tried to urge the Knicks back.

But every time they got close, Miami had an answer.

It looked as if the Knicks were finished after Childs traveled with Mourning guarding him with 1:28 left, New York's fourth consecutive botched possession. But the Heat threw away the inbounds pass, and Chris Mills hit a three-pointer to make it 87-83.

John Starks committed his sixth foul eight seconds later, but Hardaway missed both foul shots. Mourning tied up Johnson in the lane and won the jump ball, setting up a three-pointer by Murdock with 35 seconds left that made it 90-83.

Murdock slapped hands with coach Pat Riley on his way back downcourt, but the Knicks were still not done. Charlie Ward scored on a layup, and Houston then swiped an inbounds pass and had an open three-pointer. He missed it badly, making him 0-for-6 in the fourth quarter, and the Knicks were finally done.

"I think the whole second half we made a lot of mistakes," Houston said. "We turned the ball over, didn't execute well at all. That's what playoff basketball is."

It was all Lenard and Houston in the early going. Lenard scored 14 in the first quarter as Mourning sat out with foul trouble and the Knicks ran nearly every play for Houston. He shot 6-for-7 for 18 points.

"Voshon can really shoot," Riley said. "He simply was not going to be taken out of the game. He was going to get his shots, get open, and he was going to take them. If he can get his feet set, he's got a good chance to make them."

P.J. Brown also drew three fouls, but the Heat wasn't hurt offensively. Hardaway scored 11 in the second quarter and the Heat was shooting 68 percent at the half as it took a 56-44 lead into the locker room.

New York started to mount a comeback early in the third after Brown quickly picked up his fourth foul. A three-pointer by Houston pulled the Knicks to 60-55, but Hardaway was fouled on a three-point attempt and made all three free throws to up the lead to eight.

Lenard hit Miami's final two shots of the quarter, taking the air out of New York's attempts to pull closer than four.

"Any time you have guys telling you they're going to get you open, that gives you confidence," Lenard said. "Tim Hardaway was hitting me on the money."