Rapid Reaction: Knicks 102, Heat 90

WHAT IT MEANS: While LeBron James and Dwyane Wade didn't play due to minor injuries, Knicks' star Carmelo Anthony did, making a huge statement on Tuesday night against the East-leading Heat.

He tied his career high with 50 points on 18-for-26 from the field and 7-for-10 from 3-point range. The Knicks overall shot 14-for-27 (51.9 percent) from downtown, while the Heat were only 8-for-20 (40 percent).

Tyson Chandler's big block on Chris Bosh's layup and J.R. Smith's 3-pointer with 1:47 to play helped ice the game, which improved the Knicks, winners of nine straight (the NBA's current longest streak), to 47-26.

DIFFERENCE-MAKER: Chandler returned Tuesday night from a 10-game injury absence, but once he took the court, the attention quickly turned to Anthony, who didn't miss in the first quarter until 23 seconds remained. He scored 17 points on 7-for-8 shooting (3-for-4 from 3-point range). Melo has been starting at power forward this season, sometimes scoring more out of the low post, but he looked liked his old small-forward self, making most of his shots off quick-release jumpers -- even with hands right in his face.

CHANDLER'S RETURN: He started at center, moving Kenyon Martin to backup, and played 24 minutes and scored one point. He did, however, have two blocks and a steal in the game. Overall, his timing was a bit off rotating off pick-and-rolls and he was late defensively to a few inside drives. But the most important thing is that Chandler made it through the contest with no setbacks.

EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND: Raymond Felton struggled to find his shot for most of the game, but he was much more aggressive in the fourth quarter. At the start of the period, he found Martin twice inside off hard drives and then took Norris Cole to the hoop twice. His play at point helped the Knicks outscore the Heat 24-14 in the final period.

SHOOTING SHUMP: Entering the game, Iman Shumpert had shot 49.1 percent from 3-point range (26-for-53) in the month of March -- many of them coming from the baseline corner, where he's sometimes positioned in the Knicks' space-out offense. Tonight, he hit three 3s from that spot.

DEFENSIVE IMPROVEMENTS: The Heat had four offensive putbacks in the first half: two by Mike Miller, one by Chris Bosh and another by Udonis Haslem. In addition, the Knicks were late on their rotations, switched too often and slipped way too much guarding pick-and-rolls, leaving them vulnerable to easy drives and kick-outs for 3-pointers.

The Heat, on the other hand, were more aggressive with their halfcourt traps -- forcing Felton into two turnovers in the first quarter -- and closing out on the Knicks' other players to put more of the scoring onus on Anthony. While the Knicks' star didn't disappoint, the Heat's double teams and coverage schemes were superior. While the Heat scored 36 points in the paint, the Knicks only had half of that.

WHAT'S NEXT: The second game of a challenging back-to-back against the Hawks, who are currently the fifth seed in the East at 42-33 and 6-4 in their last 10 games. Tipoff in Atlanta is set for 7 p.m.

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