NEW YORK (AP) — LeBron James doesn’t think the Miami Heat are out to make statements. The New York Knicks would like to make one of their own after failing to do so against the Heat less than two weeks ago.
Looking to build on his first triple-double since he last faced the Knicks, James will try to help the surging Heat beat New York for the seventh consecutive time Tuesday night.
Miami (23-9) has won 14 of 15 since a 9-8 start to the season. The Heat beat the Los Angeles Lakers 96-80 on Saturday, holding the two-time reigning NBA champion to 40.5-percent shooting.
Miami is limiting opponents to an average of 86.7 points over the last 15 games.
“We’re not trying to make a statement to anyone,” said James, who had 27 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. “We’re trying to show each other that we can play at a high level and try to get better every game.
“We never had that arrogant part where we thought we were bigger than everybody else, but we were just very confident before we did anything. To have that humbling experience at the beginning of the season has helped us.”
The triple-double was James’ third of the season and second in five games. The two-time reigning league MVP had 32 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in a 113-91 victory over New York (18-12) at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 17 – his first meeting with the Knicks since spurning them to join the Heat as a free agent in the offseason.
James is averaging 34.5 points, 7.7 assists and 7.5 rebounds in 11 games versus the Knicks since the start of the 2007-08 season.
The Heat have also dominated New York, winning six in a row by an average of 14.1 points. Dwyane Wade has been a big reason for that, averaging 35.8 points in those meetings while hitting 12 of 25 3-pointers. Wade had 26 points at New York earlier this month.
The Knicks have turned in a pair of impressive defensive performances since a three-game skid. Three nights after a 112-98 victory over Oklahoma City, they beat Central Division-leading Chicago 103-95 on Saturday. The Bulls and Thunder shot a combined 41.5 percent versus New York – 22.6 from 3-point range.
“We did a beautiful job defensively,” the Knicks’ Amar’e Stoudemire said. “We’ve been talking about defense now for the past – actually the whole year – but more so the past week about communicating, helping the helper, so it’s really showing.”
Stoudemire had 24 points and 14 rebounds in the last matchup with the Heat.
Knicks point guard Raymond Felton had 20 points and 12 assists Saturday. He’ll seek to improve upon his performance against Miami from Dec. 17, when he made 3 of 12 shots and finished with eight points and 10 assists.
Felton has shot 29.5 percent from the floor, including 1 for 10 from beyond the arc, in his last four visits to Miami – all while playing for Charlotte.
© 2010 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.